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ACI Blog

Higher Education Payments: Creating a Better Billing Experience for Students, Families and the Institution

Through payment innovations, higher education institutions have a unique opportunity to raise student and parent satisfaction by offering newer and more convenient ways to pay. For colleges and universities that are looking to adapt, here are some must-haves for easing college payment anxieties.

Simplify the process

It’s not always easy or convenient for students and parents to manage an account. They often must go to different websites to pay the tuition bill or set up a payment plan. Instead of multiple websites, logins and more, higher education institutions can streamline and simplify the payment process by enabling a single, well-powered website hub. This can limit confusion among parents and students by providing one source of information and one location for payments, whether they are looking to pay in full or set up single (or multiple) payment plans.

Create a personalized experience

Personalization is no longer optional – it’s necessary. Students expect a personalized experience across all channels. For payments, this can begin with communications. Personalized messaging is critical: institutions should enable both students and authorized family members to customize bill delivery and payment alerts. By offering options and control over the payment experience, higher education institutions can increase student (and family) satisfaction.

Make it fast

More than anything, today’s consumers expect speed and efficiency. The adoption of real-time payments is widespread, and convenience is key. Unlike traditional payments, real-time payments are instant and do not result in a delay between initial transaction and actual processing completion. In their joint study, ACI and Ovum reported that most consumers find real-time payments to be at least moderately helpful in paying their bills on time (41% said “very helpful” and 37% said “extremely helpful”). By adapting to real-time payments, higher education institutions can help minimize risk of late payment stress and/or fees for students and their families.

Ensure payment security

Whether paying in full or in monthly installments, students and their families should be able to pay their schools without having to worry about the security of their payments through any channel. By incorporating an innovative payment system that protects against cyber security threats, higher education institutions can assure, and be assured, that all payments are protected.

Mobile is a must

The campus experience has undoubtedly turned digital. For the average student, convenience can depend upon the accessibility of technology. According to the ACI Speedpay Pulse, Gen Z is significantly more likely than Baby Boomers and Gen X to prefer digital billing statement methods (48.9%). That said, any college or university payment hub should have a design that’s responsive to both web and mobile payments and screens. In fact, looking at today’s college student, one should probably consider a mobile-first design approach for all payment activities.


Incorporating these tips into a college or university payment system can lead to better relationships with students, parents and staff. But some might be asking, where to begin?

To learn more, join our virtual webinar on April 9, where we will discuss payments and billing in higher education, and share insights on the impact of COVID on the sector.

Vice President, Segment and Solution Marketing

As Vice President, Merchant Segment & Solution Marketing, Michael has responsibility for developing and executing strategic product launch activities for the Merchant Payments solutions which include omni-channel, eCommerce and fraud prevention capabilities for retailers, telcos, hospitality, gaming, travel and other merchant verticals.  In this role, he drives thought leadership content, develops solution messaging, supports ACI sales and solution consulting teams and facilitates market awareness of ACI’s products and strategies. Michael covers topics ranging from retailer payments, omni-payment and omni-channel strategies for retailers, as well as point-of-sale, mobile, online/eCommerce and emerging payments types. His coverage of payments risk management topics including enterprise fraud prevention and fraud detection including card, card-not-present fraud, merchant, online banking, mobile and merchant fraud as well as AML and various. Additional he covers mobile topics like mobile banking, mobile payments, mobile wallets, and mCommerce.