Today’s students have significantly different expectations for their college experiences, including how they expect to pay tuition. It is vital that institutions begin changing their approach to billing and payments to meet these changing expectations.
In this web seminar, panelists discussed the preferences that Generation Z students, parents and business officers have when it comes to billing and payments, and how institutions are adopting new payment strategies to meet the needs of students today and in the future.
David R. Glezerman
Assistant Vice President and Bursar
Temple University (Pa.)
Director of Product Management
Chief Market Strategist
MTFX Group of Companies
David R. Glezerman: Consumers have concerns about their privacy. In dealing with the different customers that we have, I look at four areas: our students; their parents, who most of the time are paying the bills; third-party payers, a group that we’re seeing more and more, especially in the international space; and businesses.
What are some of the needs and wants of our customers? Clearly, they’re looking for convenience. People want to do things from the comfort of their home or their apartment, from their car, or from wherever they may be. The expectation is that wherever I am and however I want to do something, I’m able to do it, and I don’t want to be constrained by office hours or any other barriers.
We need to be thinking more like companies that are doing this with tremendous success, and looking at their best practices, regardless of whether they’re in our industry.
Trying to find the right solution can be a full-time job. So I look at outsourcing as a positive for us. You’re looking for expertise.
Jeff Fromm: Over the next couple of years, some education brands will thrive and some will cease to exist based on their ability to adapt to changing preferences. Generation Z students are remarkably different, and we need to understand how they’re different in order to better address them and evolve to meet their needs.
Gen Zers are old souls in young bodies. They’re digital, social and mobile to the bone—but their values look more like those who are in the 55-plus age group. Gen Zers like good, old-fashioned competition. They intend to compete hard, and they intend to find jobs. They intend to look at universities and education opportunities that will connect them from school to jobs.
Gen Zers are not naive. They have to have a quid pro quo arrangement, or they will not share their data. If their data helps them to get a more customized, personalized experience, then great. They will trust your brand.
Marc Sczesnak: Innovation, trust and accessibility are very important themes in what we do to try to simplify the experience for students making payments.
We’re finding that Gen Zers are very anxious about paying their bills. We also know that processes can ease some of this anxiety. Ninety-four percent of families paying late want to use things such as a virtual collection agent; 97% feel that if payment choices could be expanded to include debit or credit cards, that would be a good thing. This whole theme of simplifying my life is very important. Seventy-four percent of institutions are offering or developing text message payments. Gen Zers are very proficient with technology. They’re expecting these types of things to happen.
But trust is important. Upward of 20% of institutions had payment data stolen in the past 12 months, and 69% believe their organization is at a greater risk of a data security breach than they were 12 months ago.
Arif Harji: International students are becoming more and more prevalent across most campuses. In 2018, international students accounted for about 5.5% of the entire student enrollment, and they contributed $42 billion to the U.S. economy. Yet a lot of colleges and universities are starting to alienate international students. We’re not offering them more payment options.
Virtually every payment option, including the local payment methods of virtually every country in the world, should be the norm. And there should be multilingual customer support. Then, the whole concept of administering and processing international tuition payments will become a lot easier for students.
Schools need to be focused on managing true integration into the SIS systems. Payments should be instantaneous. Efficiency and scalability for international students has to be accounted for through outsourced integration. Over the next two to five years, blockchain, artificial intelligence and natural payment ecosystems will be coming down the pike. Most schools are not ready for such changes, but we believe that the future is here.
To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit UBmag.me/ws060419