Paying Tuition – How Can Universities Make It Painless?
Six in ten families feel anxious about bills, five in ten paid a tuition bill late in the past year, and university student financial services leaders have fewer staff and smaller budgets to help families with their bills.
Millersville University, Ellucian and ACI Worldwide leaders came together to address these challenges at Ellucian Live last week. I sat down with Imre Gajari, director, Enterprise Applications, Millersville University, Bob Zwarycz, director Cloud Architecture, Ellucian and my colleague, Marc Sczesnak, director product management following our session, to find out how student financial services leaders can take the pain out of paying for college while saving their institution money.
Tom Gavin, ACI (TG): How can we make it easier for students and parents to pay tuition?
Imre Gajari, Millersville (IG): There are two main things universities can do to improve students’ and parents’ experience with payments. First of all, choice. We need to offer a wide variety of options for how to pay, like credit card, eCheck and check to pay tuition in full or set up payment plans. Also critical is security; we should leave no doubt that their sensitive information will be kept safe.
TG: What specific steps is Millersville University taking to enhance the payments experience?
IG: We are offering a new student payment portal, which will allow students and parents to have an Amazon-like experience when they pay their tuition. Families can see all their account information online and pay quickly and easily in a single screen.
TG: How important is branding the payments experience to Millersville?
IG: It’s very important, we want to showcase the beauty of our campus, but we also want students and parents to have a seamless experience, without having to go to a separate website.
TG: How do solutions deployed in a cloud environment enhance the student experience?
Bob Zwarycz, Ellucian (BZ): colleges and universities can use the cloud deployed solutions to make improvements quicker and easier. Whether it’s for offering more convenient payment options or making it easier to achieve PCI compliance, the cloud is growing in popularity in higher education. Plus, the cloud can lower costs for colleges and universities by spreading security and infrastructure investments across thousands of clients.
TG: How can universities help families stop worrying about the high cost of education?
Marc Sczesnak, ACI (MS): We know from our own research the concerns that families have around higher education costs, but while student financial services leaders have offered payment plans for years, few families take advantage of them. However, 51 percent of families say a payment plan would help them worry less about college.
TG: What are some of the steps that bursars can take to see payment plan enrollment soar?
MS: First, combine payment plans into the center of their student payment portal. Then, ensure the entire payment plan experience matches the institution’s name and brand, and finally, automatically enroll all students who don’t pay their balance in full by the due date.
TG: How will student financial services offices enhance the student and payment experience?
MS: We recently worked with Ovum to survey higher education leaders. They told us they plan to focus on mobile and personal experiences. Optimizing eBilling for the mobile device gets the most attention – indicating this is one way that student financial services can enhance the student payment experience.
TS: How will Millersville University enhance payments efficiency?
IG: Put simply, we want to make it as easy as possible for students and parents to pay with as few clicks as possible.
TG: What are the hottest trends around cloud efficiency?
BZ: Across the campus – student financial services, human resources, admissions – we’re seeing higher education institutions rely on a number of cloud services to move faster and at a lower cost.
Find out more about ACI’s Student Payment Portal.
Related Blog Posts
Payments and Fraud: The Paradox Twins
Digital commerce through web and mobile is where merchants predominantly experience shopper growth today. This has become a hugely important domain for their focus. It offers a means for international growth, new market penetration and a way to engage with shopper-hungry Millennials in their culture. Merchants frequently adopt a Digital-First, eCommerce-First or Mobile-First strategy to ensure full corporate buy-in to this strategy.
Open Payments Systems for Merchants: Don't Close Down Your Options
Remember “Open Systems”?
It was a big industry nom du jour in the 80s and 90s. Every IT system had to be open and therefore flexible and future-proof. Nobody can argue with the logic behind this; making systems easy to integrate with other systems, ensuring vendors could cooperate with one another; creating agility to improve time to market and drive down costs.
Why It’s Time for Women to Rise UP
As a senior software engineer at ACI Worldwide, Rawan Shawar helps to guide her team’s priorities and enhance processes at both the team and organizational level. Recently, Rawan was selected by the organizers of Money20/20 Asia to be part the Rise Up Class of 2019.
Can Digital Payments Be Kind?
There is no doubt that the era of less (or minimal) cash is truly upon us. According to the Access to Cash Review, cash could fall to just 10 percent of all payments in the UK within the next 15 years.
Other countries, such as Sweden, have already seen significant changes – cashless payments have grown so quickly that only 10 percent of the 20 SEB banks in Stockholm now hold cash. Beyond Europe, China is leading the way with USD$12.8 trillion in mobile payment transactions in 2018.
Keeping Up With Fraudsters: A Month Isn’t Enough
As the Government of Canada campaigns for improved fraud prevention and awareness this month, I’d like to do my part as a fellow Canadian, and shed some light on why payments need to stay a step (or more) ahead of fraudsters, today more than ever.
Local Perspectives: Real-Time Realities Across Asia-Pacific in 2019
Money20/20 Asia returns to Singapore this week, attracting payments professionals from around the vast APAC region – and beyond. The real-time and open imperative is one of the reasons why all eyes are on Asia-Pacific when it comes to payments, so I caught up with ACI payments experts representing three of the key countries within the region, to take the pulse of real-time schemes that are in varying stages of maturity.
What it Takes to be an ‘Influential Woman in Payments’ [Q&A]
Coming off the back of International Women’s Day this past weekend, PaymentsSource has recognized the Most Influential Women in Payments, spanning multiple industries including financial services, retail, investment and technology. Among the honorees is ACI’s very own Carolyn Homberger, group president, global sales. Part of the executive leadership team at ACI, Carolyn leads a team of payments professionals operating across all global regions, and plays a critical role in setting business strategy. As an advocate for the leadership and growth of women in the payments industry, Carolyn is also responsible for launching ACI’s own Women’s Initiative.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Digital Transformation
The recent headline grabbing announcement that Banco Santander has signed a USD $700M contract with IBM got me thinking… what’s up with ‘Digital Transformation’ these days? Santander’s announcement was all about digital transformation… and they are a forward-thinking bank. The new global technology agreement is designed to increase efficiencies in the bank’s operations, enable it to be more innovative and deliver new products, faster. But not every bank can pony up $700M and not every bank has suitable technology in place. It got me thinking, what is actually needed for digital transformation?
Putting Malaysia on the Path to Payments Innovation
The public launch of the DuitNow instant credit transfer service, in December 2018, provides just a taste of what lies ahead as Malaysia’s Real-time Retail Payments Platform (RPP) is progressively rolled out. Fueled by Bank Negara’s (BNM) increasing support for e-payment platform development, there has been a steady increase in mobile wallet and digital payment usage, setting the stage for 2019 to be a year of transformation for the payments industry in Malaysia.
What Can the Re-Regulation of Other Industries Tell Us About Open Banking One Year On?
UK Open Banking just reached its first birthday milestone (on January 13 to be precise) and given my own commentary – including in the ACI blog – on this topic, the first anniversary of Open Banking in the UK certainly won’t pass without a debrief on the progress that’s been made and what challenges lie ahead.