3 ways higher ed can modernize its payment strategies

It’s time to enter “Modernization Mode” and give your students clarity, convenience and flexibility with modern features when it comes to making payments on campus.
Dan Anniuk
Dan Anniukhttps://www.paymentus.com/
Dan has spent 20 years in higher education working with both large and small institutions around tuition only payments, as well as campus wide payment programs.

“Modernization Mode” is something we talk a lot about at Paymentus, and there are two main reasons for this.

One, modernization is necessary to meet the expectations of today’s billpayers. Our research shows that traditional bill payment experiences create multiple pain points for customers—especially younger ones—who expect and want more holistic ways to view and pay their bills. Two, modernization is not a switch you just turn on and off. That’s why we call it a mode. It’s an organizational commitment to breaking free of legacy limitations and deploying a solution that is comprehensive, inclusive and designed to deliver ongoing innovation.

According to the latest “How Americans Pay Their Bills” industry report, 60% of bills paid to universities, colleges or trade schools are made on billers’ websites – one of the more cost-effective billing and payment channels. That leaves 40% of payments made by other means that are likely slower and more costly to collect and process. What’s more, there are more Gen Z students on campuses than ever before. These digital natives are accustomed to simplicity, convenience, choice and speed, whether it’s buying a shirt online, streaming music or paying a bill.

Failing to meet these expectations risks late payments, unhappy students and more staff time spent chasing collections.

Here’s how colleges and universities can enter modernization mode and deliver a holistic experience tailored toward today’s students, families, alumni and donors.

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Partner with a best-in-class technology provider

Everything flows from here. Your billing and payment partner provides the foundation for your platform and its performance. Working with a vetted, trusted and experienced billing and payment partner should be table stakes.

The real key lies within the solution itself. Legacy payment systems already have inherent limitations. These systems—sometimes decades old—are more vulnerable to security breaches, offer disjointed back-office functionality and are costly to maintain. But a “modern” payment solution can be just as unwieldy if not specifically engineered for maximum flexibility. In these instances, innovation comes in the form of having to add additional layers and contracts should you want to add payment options like digital wallets.

A best-in-class solution is one that offers pre-existing, supported real-time integrations with advanced payment options, simplified reporting and reconciliation, a streamlined implementation process and bank-level security. This delivers everything you need in a single solution, without the need for added vendors and fees.

Prioritize delivering an ultra-modern ecosystem

When considering the modernization of your billing and payment solution, it’s important to consider the whole experience, both that of your students and your staff. Adding payment options like digital wallets is great, but if these transactions are ultimately invisible within your reporting and reconciliations, they cause more harm than good.

An ultra-modern ecosystem first addresses all of your campus payment needs: student financial services (e.g., tuition and meal plans), student debt services (e.g., financial aid and past-due accounts) and treasury services.

From there, students and families are offered expanded payment methods (credit cards, digital wallets, etc.) and payment channels and features (text, digital disbursements, chatbots, notifications, etc.). Each of these should then be visible in real-time through an advanced, seamlessly integrated analytics and reporting dashboard.

Select a holistic payment solution

The most important aspect of deploying an ultra-modern payment ecosystem is finding a single provider that can offer everything in an integrated solution.

One of the biggest challenges many higher ed institutions face is trying to innovate on a legacy solution that’s not built for today’s payment methods and channels. Inevitably, this leads to added layers, greater complexity and potentially dangerous gaps from systems being patchworked together.

Offering a single integration layer that brings together omnichannel payments, student information systems, payment processing services and real-time reporting delivers the ultimate in efficiency and performance. This also offers the opportunity to continuously expand your platform to accommodate new products, features and payment methods as they come to market.

Of course, partnering with a leading software provider that can deliver a modern student engagement hub helps to maximize the power of the full solution. In this way, students get an easy-to-navigate platform that meets all of their billing and payment expectations.


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