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How to Improve Account Reconciliation for Higher Education

5/21/2024 7:00 PM

Account reconciliation is a critical, repetitive process in the business of higher education. Taking steps to improve the reconciliation process will create significant benefits to this time consuming task, including help with costs, compliance, and more.

By implementing the following best practices for account reconciliation, the process will be more comprehensive, accurate, efficient, and productive. Today’s reconciliation solutions ease the accounting process but can do more, such as provide data analytics through dashboards and reports.

Ensure your reconciliation solution integrates with your SIS

Integration with your student information system (SIS) means student accounts are automatically updated, improving the speed and accuracy of reconciliation. The automation of reconciliation reduces workload, freeing up staff to focus on providing quality service and completing special projects. It also improves payments administration and compliance by centralizing payment processes to meet institutional policies and industry standards.

Ensure your reconciliation solution consolidates campuswide payments and integrates with vendors

The more transactions completed through a centralized, integrated payments platform, the better. Whether e-commerce, in-person, mail, over the phone, or via vendor solution, having all payments go through the same centralized process to automate posting of transactions to the general ledger (G/L) will improve reconciliation and compliance.

Use your reconciliation solution’s data capabilities

Use analytics features to analyze unified data from your SIS, integrated solutions, and payment processor. Monitor payments across campus to gain important insights, such as identifying the percentage of fees incurred on each transaction and keeping an eye on the chargeback rate of merchants. Organize the data to quickly find the details you need and produce reports that improve your work.

Monitor notifications

Notices regarding transactions must be reviewed regularly to resolve issues as quickly and successfully as possible. Make sure you’re aware who receives notifications regarding suspicious transactions and credit card chargebacks at your institution and that there’s a process in place for replying to these notices. Unmonitored credit card chargebacks can greatly increase operational costs of accepting credit card payments. ACH transactions should be monitored for returns and to detect ACH payment fraud.

Determine permissions and access

Employ administrative controls to set user permissions and access to data and processes. This clarifies roles and responsibilities and improves data security and privacy by restricting access to only those who need to handle certain data.

Develop and automate communication to students

Set up alerts and notifications in your reconciliation solution that are automatically delivered to students based on criteria you have set. Early, clear, and consistent communication can help students be informed of policies, meet deadlines, and address account issues.

Powerful solution plus best practices equals success

When the right solution and best practices are implemented together, reconciliation can go beyond daily accounting to provide other benefits. It can help you understand and improve many aspects of campus payments, from transaction costs to payments compliance. By automating the process of reconciliation, solutions also save time for the business office. Staff can turn their attention to other priorities and projects that contribute to student success and the institution’s mission.

To learn more about improving reconciliation, read our case study on how the College of Charleston streamlined their reconciliation by integrating solutions and simplifying processes.