Report: International students demand simplified, streamlined and flexible education payments

Sharon Butler
Sharon Butler
is EVP, Global Education at Flywire.

An education has many variables: location, program of study, experiential learning – the list goes on. But it is becoming clearer that regardless of circumstances, one trend is staying the same: education costs continue to rise, and students these days are demanding solutions to make attending school more affordable.

That was one of the upshots of Passport to Higher Education: A Global Payments Study, an independent report commissioned by Flywire to evaluate the state of global education in a post-pandemic world. The survey polled more than a thousand college and university students from Australia, Canada, China, the United Kingdom and the United States, in order to better understand student attitudes as the industry moves forward in the wake of COVID.

Here are a few things we found:

Education costs are on the rise

Our research found that as many as 86% of those surveyed need help affording education expenses. The trend holds for students across the globe, with the only outlier being Australia, where 91% reported needing assistance.

COVID-19 has also exacerbated that feeling. Our research found that nearly two-thirds (72%) of students feel that the process of making tuition payments has been a significant stressor for them or their family. 41% of those students said that the stress is because of financial difficulties, 28% said it was because of unclear processes from their institution, and 20% said it was due to a lack of online payment options.

The payment process must be simplified

Paying for higher education can be a nightmare. From tuition and fees to public loans, private loans and government funding, most students and families will tell you that getting the “balance due” number to zero can be a years-long process that takes countless twists and turns. According to our research, that has to change.

An overwhelming majority of students – more than three-fourths (77%) – feel that access to a simplified payment process would help improve their higher education experience. The remainder, made up of students who felt otherwise and students who were unsure, sat at 8% and 15%, respectively.

Flexible payment plans can help

Flexibility when it comes to paying for higher education is key. Payment installments – dividing the total price tag of an education into more manageable sums distributed over time – are viewed by a significant majority of people as an aid to affording education as a whole. More than 70% of students in Canada (71%), China (73%), and the U.K. (73%) believed that, with Australia being the highest outlier at 81%, and the United States being the lowest at 62%.

Combined with the significant concern over cost and processes, overall opinion towards payment installations positions flexible payment plans as a solution.

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