3 minute read

Need More Time with Students? Automation May Be the Answer

3/28/2023 8:00 PM

Many higher education institutions are facing staff turnover and hiring challenges, resulting in significant understaffing across campus. Tasks that once were an entire other job have been absorbed into existing staff responsibilities, and doing more work with fewer people is common practice.

According to the CUPA-HR Higher Education Employee Retention Survey from July 2022, 67% of full-time staff typically work more hours each week than what is considered full-time, and 63% have taken on additional responsibilities of staff who have recently left. As business office staff struggle with being overworked while ensuring an excellent student experience, the need for some relief is obvious.

One area that takes up a lot of time in the business office is payments. Historically a complex, time-consuming, manual process, technology that automates payment processes can prove tremendously beneficial.

Automating the Business Office

Implementing advanced technology that automates manual tasks is one way to deliver some much needed relief for staff. Here are seven ways an integrated payment solution can alleviate strain on staff resources.

General Ledger (GL) Posting: Some campus technology systems provide automatic GL posting to campus ERP systems, eliminating wait time or the need to update manually which could introduce errors. The ability to view data in real-time is a huge benefit, giving staff confidence that information is accurate. It also enables informed decision-making based on up-to-date information.

Payments: A flexible system can automate tuition and fee payments as well as campuswide e-commerce, reducing back office processes. If your solution allows for recurring payments, donations, and fees, automation functionality can streamline your payment processing. Additionally, some payment software offers ACH automation, providing ACH processing management, generating and transmitting your daily ACH transactions, funds settlement to your bank account, and reversal of returned ACH transactions.

Refunds/Disbursements: Systems that allow for stored payment profiles can automate refunds with funds deposited back to the payment method on file. Institutions can also reduce workload and eliminate inaccuracies by automating additional disbursements on campus, such as financial aid balances, research stipends, athlete reimbursements, and work-study wages.

Payment Plans: An institution offering a payment plan solution can benefit from automated installment recalculations if their vendor offers that feature. The ability to schedule payment installments helps students—and their parents or sponsors—plan ahead and budget to ensure tuition payments are on time and in full, relieving staff of the need to provide time-intensive manual oversight. Many payment plan software options also include the ability to send automated reminders and integrate with student information systems for real-time account updates.

Communications: Technology offering the ability to set up notification preferences that trigger automated emails and alerts on activities such as login, payment and refund status, and profile changes can go a long way toward decreasing manual tasks. Scheduling these types of notifications frees up staff time while keeping both them and students informed of important changes and activities.

Student IDs: It is common for students to use their campus ID to purchase items on campus. The right technology ensures these payments are secure and integrate with the campus SIS for automatic updates to the student account.

Reporting: If your integrated payment solution includes scheduled reports functionality, reports can be set to automatically send at specific times and to specific users. This gives users the data required while eliminating the time-consuming hassle of searching for needed information.

Benefits of Automating Business Office Processes for Students

With more automated processes, time shifts from completing manual tasks to spending more time providing personalized support and service, ultimately enhancing the overall student experience. Self-service functionality means that students can find the information they seek whenever needed. Students can login to review payments, statements, profiles, and even purchase meal plans and event tickets, allowing them the flexibility and convenience of 24/7 access to information.

Contact us to find out what processes you can automate and schedule a demo.

Read about how the College of Charleston automated processes to improve student services and help staff.