Making refunds and financial aid disbursements easier for both staff and students

BankMobile Disbursements helps Troy University get funds to students by improving efficiency

In 2006, Troy University, a four-year public institution in Alabama, was writing thousands of refund checks and financial aid disbursements every semester across multiple campuses in Montgomery, Dothan, Phenix City and online, servicing more than 17,000 students.

It was time-consuming, labor-intensive work for Troy staff, and students not only waited in long lines to get disbursement checks, they turned around and waited in equally long lines to cash them through the university. Dr. Jim Bookout, Senior Vice Chancellor for Finance and Business Affairs at Troy, knew there had to be a better, more efficient, way.

 “I thought we could do better when I encountered 200 students waiting in line for financial aid disbursements,” says Bookout. “We have 80 percent of our student body on some type of grant, loan or scholarship, so there was no doubt that we needed to have a different method, and a more efficient method, of distributing excess funds in a timely manner.”

 Enter BankMobile Disbursements, which turned the inefficient manual work of Troy’s finance department into an efficient digital enterprise, with nearly 94 percent of all disbursements being electronically deposited. The driving principle of BankMobile’s service is to assist colleges and universities with an electronic disbursement process to reduce safety, security and fraud issues.

Bookout says many students were using excess funds to pay for living expenses such as rent, so there wasn’t an immediate focus on bank accounts as opposed to cashing the check. BankMobile, however, provides a student-focused checking account option. The account offers students direct deposit, fee-free ATMs, no monthly minimums and immediate access to their money.

“No more paper envelopes or stuffing envelopes; there were savings and improved efficiency when it came to labor, supplies and mail volume,” says Bookout, who adds that the savings on paper and postage alone was around $250,000 over the last decade, in addition to labor savings.

The virtual elimination of paper checks allows Bookout to reduce the stress on finance personnel.

“We have a very lean staff; we like to say that we hire one to do the job of five,” says Bookout. “We don’t have the luxury of overstaffing to accommodate services. We have to be efficient and streamline our services, and BankMobile presented a streamlining opportunity for us.”

Bookout says that the school initially looked at an internal option to handle refunds and financial aid disbursements, but BankMobile offered not only a more streamlined process but improved security of student banking information.

“We considered doing this internally, but when we looked at the pros and cons, staffing requirements, changes and limitations of our own systems, in addition to the integration with our local bank and the storage of individual banking information, we decided this was not something we wanted to undertake,” says Bookout. “We didn’t want to incur the costs associated with maintaining the security of that information.”

Bookout adds that the suite of services, including a call center and point of contact for each of Troy’s campuses, is still making a difference 10 years later with BankMobile.

“We look at all these strategies BankMobile has bundled together for us, and this is a win-win situation for us in terms of efficiency,” says Bookout.

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