How One Bursar Managed a Crisis and Kept Students Enrolled

Real Clients. Real Results. | UAH

When Dani Hillman started her role as Bursar at the University of Alabama in Huntsville last fall, she was immediately faced with a crisis. New university policies, staff turnover, and a flawed payment plans system presented Hillman with the prospect of having to drop almost a thousand students from their classes for the following semester.

According to a new policy, all students with a past due balance on the last day of the Fall 2019 semester would have their classes for the Spring 2020 semester dropped. When Hillman took over, retirements had led to the loss of a great deal of institutional knowledge, and nobody in her office had been in their roles for more than a month.

To round it all off, the UAH used a payment plan administrator that left them completely in the dark. Hillman and her team didn’t have access to payer information, and weren’t provided with good reporting or insight into communications being sent to students.

“I had no idea who had been told what,” says Hillman. “Did they know they owed a balance? Did they think they were paid in full? Had anybody communicated with them?”

This put Hillman and her team in a tough position. “I personally had a problem coming in and just dropping almost a thousand students from their spring classes in the middle of the year when I don't know what they know.”

Hillman had to figure out how to address this situation, and she needed a plan fast.

Enter Flywire.

Even the best solution wouldn’t be useful if it couldn’t be implemented quickly and easily. Flywire checked all the boxes.

“It happened so fast. I got the call from Flywire on a Tuesday. I got the go ahead from my boss to do this trial run on Wednesday, and on Friday we had a test environment live.”

By the following Monday, Flywire was up and running with just a six day turnaround.

How is Flywire’s comprehensive receivables solution helping UAH?

Hillman cites the ability to offer students multiple payment plans running concurrently as the single biggest factor in the university’s decision.

“For example, the student could have the past due amount on a payment plan set up alongside the regular tuition payment plan for the spring,” says Hillman. “Most solutions out there don’t let you do that.”

This allowed UAH to give students and families a bit of financial flexibility during the holiday season, without making them fall behind on payments for the spring semester.

Hillman also notes Flywire’s mobile-friendly payer interface and powerful communications hub as influential factors. UAH was able to not only vastly improve balance overdue communications, but also easily customize outreach with branding and language consistent with the institution’s culture.

Moreover, UAH is now able to provide flexible payment plans that adjust automatically as expenses or ability to pay change over time.

“If a student’s payment is supposed to be a thousand dollars, but they can only pay $300 one month due to extenuating circumstances, we can adjust installments and let them pay that amount, with the remaining $700 automatically repopulating over the balance of their term. That has been a major life saver for several of our students. The ability to be flexible on an individual level has really made a lot of our students very, very happy and also made them able to continue school, and not have to worry about how they're going to pay their tuition.”

Want to make your own institution’s payment plans more flexible, while streamlining office operations?

Check out the following resources to learn how you can bridge the growing gap between available financial aid and rising tuition costs: