Upper Grand District School Board’s (UGDSB) International Student Program’s dedication to providing international students with a superior and affordable education has been an enormous factor in the program’s success. The international payment process they were employing was not only unable to keep up with UGDSB’s growth, but it was proving cumbersome.
UGDSB was set up to receive international payments through bank deposits and wire transfers only, which was limiting and often inconvenient for payers. These payment methods lacked transparency and ease, and made the entire payment process slower and more complicated. A student’s home country’s banking laws and requirements were additional pain points and often required the student or their family to visit their bank in person. In addition, if the student did not send a copy of their payment slip for their wire transfer, then UGDSB would have to reach out to the bank and ask for supporting documentation to ensure payment matching and reconciliation were not further delayed.
Staff efficiency was also affected. Bank fees were not accounted for by the payers when making their payments, so the payments received by UGDSB could be short of the full amount. More often than not, the payments lacked vital information for reconciliation. Michelle Quinton, Assistant to the Superintendent and Coordinator of the International Student Program, explained, “Sometimes the remitter’s name was not clear, so matching payment to student became a guessing game.”
A new payment solution was clearly in order. UGDSB wanted to provide payers with a fast, convenient, and cost-effective payment experience. “A wire transfer can take up to four business days to arrive in our bank account, and our industry is time sensitive for the supporting documentation, such as receipts and letters of acceptance for visa or study permit applications, that we generate after receiving funds,” said Michelle.
Michael Raue, Computer Support Technician - International Student Office, worked with Flywire’s implementation team to customize Flywire’s payment portal, which had to suit UGDSB’s needs and cater to agents and families. “There were many customization options for us to choose from, including branding, different single or multiple payments, and required/not required fields, which allowed us to track much more information about the sender than we had ever before,” Michael said. “The setup and implementation was fast and easy. It only took a few weeks, with most of the time taken up by us figuring out how we wanted the payments set up and tracked with multiple payments and different required fields.” After the payment portal was finalized, UGDSB simply put the link to Flywire’s secure payment portal on its website and within its online application.
According to Michael, the post-implementation support was easy to reach and clearly dedicated to making sure the implementation was a success. “We made some initial tweaks to the payment portal by making different fields required/not required and haven’t had to make any changes since,” said Michael. “We’re notified when a payment is made and we can easily determine who it’s from and specifically the student the money is for.”
Michelle, the primary user at UGDSB of Flywire’s platform, has found the overall payment experience to be extremely efficient at processing international payments. “The dashboard is visually appealing, and very easy to understand and use—no training was needed! I like that I can put a check mark next to the payment to remind myself that I have completed the in-house next steps. I work faster with this system than previous processes,” said Michelle. “I prefer it to wire transfers and electronic funds transfers for clarity, transparency, speed, and matching to application.”
With the right tools in place, Michelle can now anticipate incoming guaranteed payments and reconcile deposits swiftly, which in turn allows her to plan her workload and provide just-in-time service to her department and UGDSB’s students and agents.
The Upper Grand District School Board serves more than 34,000 students through 65 elementary schools and 11 secondary schools in the City of Guelph, County of Wellington and County of Dufferin. The UGDSB covers the ancestral and traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Six Nations of the Grand River, and Saugeen Ojibway Nation Territories. Student success is the goal of over 3,000 dedicated teaching and support staff who are aided by the contributions of caring volunteers and community partners.