Solving Chinese students’ payment challenges

Jenny Pak-Vincent
Jenny Pak-Vincent is the North America Relationship Management Lead at Flywire.

In North American universities, Chinese students make up the largest portion of the international student population—approximately 25 percent. As with most international students, these students are tasked with navigating the international education payment process at some point in their time abroad. Because of restrictions and regulations, Chinese students face unique obstacles when making an international payment, and for many, it can be a new and daunting experience.

One of the first items to consider when sending money from China is the payment amount limit imposed by the Chinese government. Chinese regulations restrict the amount of money one can send abroad to USD 50,000 per person. Students can avoid this limit for tuition payments by sending funds directly to the university instead of transferring it to their personal accounts in the US. That way they can utilize the personal limit for personal expenses like living costs and transportation needs.

Another consideration for Chinese students and their families is the actual payment method. It is important to weigh their options carefully before committing to one. Many payers are price sensitive and prioritize cost as well as payment delivery speed and familiar methods when looking to make their payment.

While using direct wire to send an education payment may seem like a simple method for students, many schools actually discourage this method for several reasons. The biggest challenge is payment reconciliation and shortfalls in the amount received when paying by direct wire. If the wire is not done correctly (for example, student information is missing), then the school is required to manually research the issue, therefore complicating and lengthening the reconciliation process by several days. Additionally, banks impose transaction costs for both the payer and the school receiving the wire, further increasing the cost of the wire. And since the payment can go through multiple banks prior to finally landing in the school’s account, schools often receive shorter payments than what was expected, creating a balance for the student to cover. Another big issue faced by schools with wire is the lack of access or knowledge to complete full compliance check to vet each international payment received for fraud and anti-money laundering.

Instead of using wire transfers, students should always review the payment options provided and recommended by their institution and only use approved methods. For international payments, schools contract with payment processors, such as Flywire, to provide secure and safe payment method for both the payers and the school. Through Flywire, Chinese students can use the popular bank transfer method in CNY or other common methods, such as AliPay and UnionPay. Besides being familiar payment options for all Chinese, they are easy to use and when used via Flywire, offer the same rate as a bank transfer rate to further benefit the payer.

In addition to the tuition payment, new students seek support on other living matters as they try to adapt to living in US. Students face challenges as they try to open bank accounts soon after arriving, learn their new environment, and get access to a local mobile phone. Because all of this can be intimidating for a foreigner, let alone a college student, the university student associations play a critical role in the first week of a student’s life in the US. Colleges and universities typically have Chinese student organizations that the incoming student may be able to rely on for guidance on how to navigate these processes and issues.

While payments can seem daunting, Chinese students have a wealth of knowledge ready and willing to support them, including their university, student organizations, online resources, and their payment solution providers, such as Flywire. We take into account many of the payment obstacles Chinese payers face by providing custom payment experience and support. We ensure all regulatory requirements have been met, provide round-the-clock customer support in Chinese, and create helpful student materials, such as payer guides, to help make the payment process easier.

See how we can help make international student payments easier.