Five questions to ask payment plan providers

Students and their families have certain expectations when it comes to making payments to education institutions. More than ever before, payers demand a solution that is convenient, accessible, and easy to use on any device. As your institution takes steps to deliver on these expectations, choosing the right payment plan provider is key to increasing efficiency and effectiveness. Here are five questions you should ask payment plan providers:

1. Can multiple payers contribute to a single student’s account?

Grandparents, parents, guardians, students, and others may need to work together to pay for education costs. So, one way to offer a payment plan that meets your students’ needs is by ensuring that more than one person can make payments on a single student’s account. By providing a streamlined payment experience for all, you can demonstrate that your institution supports various families' financial needs and empathizes with their unique situations.

2. Can payers depend on a consistent experience across all devices?

Paying for education can be challenging, but the payment experience should feel simple and familiar for payers—regardless of whether they pay from a desktop computer, a tablet, or a mobile device. However, not all providers design their solutions for the always-on-the-go way that students live their lives. To give your students the ability to pay anytime and from anywhere, you need to partner with a provider that offers a mobile-responsive solution.

3. Can payers establish payment plans before payments are due?

Your students want to stay on top of their financial obligations, so you need a provider that makes it easy for them to start paying as early as possible. Superior payment plan providers give you a way to implement payment options, including “budget-to-actual” plans for your students who enroll early. These plans determine a student’s monthly payment amounts based on informed estimates. Then, the plan adjusts the student’s monthly payment amount by factoring in the remaining balance once the actual costs are determined, ensuring a smooth and painless payment process from start to finish.

4. Can you help me reduce delinquencies and increase retention?

Collecting from students with outstanding balances is generally a challenging and inefficient process. However, institutions that do it well are able to reduce the number of accounts that go to debt collection while increasing student retention. Effective and timely engagement is the key to successfully collecting from students who are currently enrolled and those who have recently left your institution with an outstanding balance. This engagement ideally happens before the student misses a payment. With a payment plan provider that includes a monitoring and engagement solution, you can improve your collection rates, shorten your collection cycle, and increase your cash flow. Be sure to select a provider that offers the ability to monitor and reach out to students with the right messaging at the right time to keep them engaged and enrolled.

5. Can I use a single dashboard to manage domestic and international payments?

Managing payments from your international and domestic students on separate platforms is complicated and inefficient. Your payment plan provider should enable you to merge these cohorts, so you can manage and track payments from all of your students on a single dashboard—regardless of how they prefer to pay. For example, a local student who wants to use recurring card payments should not have to be tracked in a different platform than one whose parents in China contribute via Alipay.

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