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5 Ways to Increase Electronic Refunds for Speed, Savings, and Security

4/5/2022 9:00:00 AM

Many college students and their families choose paper checks for refunds and other disbursements. Most colleges and universities would choose any type of electronic transaction over paper checks in a heartbeat because payments via paper check cost more and take longer to process.

Here are five ways institutions can encourage more students to opt for electronic transactions and help colleges and universities automate, manage, and secure student finance transactions:

1. Prioritize Electronic Refunds

Colleges and universities can mandate electronic refund disbursements and send them directly to students' bank accounts via stored profiles.

2. Use Account Alerts

Highlight alerts of the student’s account balance when they log into the school’s payment portal and remind them to set up their profile, including their preferred method for receiving refunds.

3. Send Targeted Messages

Administrators can filter students by type and create tailored messages for these groups. For example, administrators can filter students without payment profiles and send a targeted message reminding them that this will expedite receipt of their refund.

4. Place Temporary Hold Check Refunds

Consider adding a 1-3 day hold for students who have opted for print check payments. During this time, staff can message students and offer electronic options to receive their refunds faster.

5. Remove Paper Checks as Default

Refund solutions offer students the option to choose between paper checks, ACH, or Original Credit Transaction (OCT) for their refund payments. Higher ed institutions can elect to remove paper checks as the default option and set direct deposit as the default.


Between the two electronic refund methods—Automated Clearing House (ACH) and Original Credit Transaction (OCT)—a Visa study found that nine out of 10 consumers prefer the slightly more expensive OCT.

Normally marketed as Visa Direct or Mastercard Send, OCT enables direct transfer of funds to a cardholder’s existing debit card within a few minutes. Because of their use of apps like Venmo and Zelle, students are familiar with and expect this kind of experience. ACH transactions take approximately two to three business days.

In addition to being faster than paper checks, electronic payments are more cost effective with an average savings of up to $5 per transaction.

How TouchNet Helps Institutions Use All Three Payment Methods

TouchNet offers a complete payment solution that gives students paper check, ACH, and OCT payment options. In addition, TouchNet can print and mail checks individually on behalf of schools to students who have not made an electronic method selection. Institutions can also customize logos, colors, images, and messaging for school-branded dashboard access.

To learn more about how TouchNet’s refund options can help make your process more efficient, cost effective, and convenient for students and staff, visit our Payment Solutions.