4 minute read

Taking the Student Payment Experience to the Next Level

5/9/2023 7:00 PM

Your payment system handles the basics well. And your staff has mastered how to use and administer the system. But what’s next? How can additional features and functionality enable you to truly leverage the system to exceed student expectations?

Most payment systems offer a variety of add-ons or complementary solutions that can take the student payment experience to the next level. Here a few options your institution may want to consider.

Payment Plans: According to a survey by TD Ameritrade, Gen Z youth rated their student loan debt stress at 6.3 out of 10, compared to millennials at 5.9. By offering a payment plan solution, your institution can help students avoid debt and relieve that stress. The ability to schedule payment installments means students—and their parents or sponsors—can plan ahead and budget to ensure tuition payments are made on time and in full, also relieving staff of the need to provide time-intensive manual oversight. Many payment plan solutions allow you to send automated reminders and integrate with student information systems for immediate account updates, so students always have access to real-time plan information.

Consents: Students and authorized users must provide a variety of consents while attending college. Whether it’s agreeing to share academic records, acknowledge institution policies, or approve a payment, the ability to sign consents electronically is a huge convenience. Your users will only receive the consents related to them—based on student attributes—and will also be notified of due dates. Additional system functionality may include the ability to edit the consent, how the user must respond, the date range the consent is displayed, and the consent history details. Once logged in to your system, students and authorized users can complete and sign consents anywhere and on any device.

Communications: One way to build student engagement is by providing transactional, informational, logistical, and promotional messages, either by email or text. Using a system that allows you to upload your own header and footer, students can easily recognize your institution branding and be assured that the message is coming from a trusted source. The system should enable personalization based on specific user attributes, tailored content, and scheduled notifications to targeted groups and individuals so students get the information they need to successfully navigate college. Alerts for payment due dates, account holds, expired payment information, refunds, and payment plan status help students stay current on and manage the financial aspect of their university experience.

Alternative Payment Methods: The ability to pay via alternative payment methods is an expectation of students and authorized users. These methods provide more flexibility and may include bank transfers, electronic wallets (eWallets), mobile wallets, Direct Debit, and Electronic Funds Transfers (EFT, an ACH-like transaction). By allowing users to use their preferred payment method, you not only meet expectations, but also provide a better user experience.

Contactless Payments: The pandemic certainly sped adoption of contactless payments and the benefits continue to spur use. Whether the student pays by tapping a credit card, or scanning a smart phone or watch, these transactions are typically faster than other payment methods and more secure. These types of transactions use near-field communication (NFC) to process payments so account information is encrypted. Students prefer contactless payments due to the added security and convenience.

Stored Value: Another feature students may find useful is integration between your payment system and your campus card ID stored value functionality. Essentially a prepaid debit card, stored values provide students with a convenient way to purchase goods and services at select campus locations. When integrated with your payment system, students and authorized users can easily load funds, review history, and see their balance.

Mobile ID: With mobile experiences now mainstream and 99% of youth owning a smartphone by the time they are 16, it’s clear that students want a mobile campus experience. Students can use their smart phones or watches to not only enter secure buildings, but to also make contactless payments. Similar to stored value, if your campus has a mobile ID that integrates with your payment system, students and authorized users then have access to transaction history, balances, and more.

College can be challenging and stressful. There is not just studying and taking exams, but paying tuition, purchasing books, buying meals, and all the other costs associated with earning a degree. Institutions focused on exceeding student expectations should consider how a payment system and complementary solutions can simplify the student payment experience and alleviate a ton of stress.

If you’d like to see how TouchNet takes student payments to the next level, contact us today to schedule a demo.

You can gain more insights into students’ technology and money habits by downloading your free copy of the 2022 Student Financial Experience Report. Our third annual survey provides valuable research to inform higher ed professionals administering services across campus.