School Payment Solution: How To Choose The Best One
When you run a school, collecting payments and managing finances is a natural part of your day-to-day role. From before and after care program tuition to club and activity fees, it’s easy to get buried in paperwork.
It’s time to trade in your filing cabinets and manual payment collection processes for an online school payment solution for fee-based programs!
Having a reliable payment processor for payments collection is imperative. CommunityPass works with schools every day to simplify and automate their program management and registration process, and we know just how large a role payment collection plays. In this guide we’ll answer the following questions:
- What Are The Benefits Of An Effective School Payment Solution?
- What Are The Essential Features You Need In Your School Payment Processor?
- What Differentiates CommunityPass’ School Payment Solution?
Whether you’re digitizing your processes for the first time or you want to simply upgrade your school’s current payment processing system, you’re in the right place. Let’s dive in.
What Are The Benefits Of An Effective School Payment Solution?
Your school’s payment solution is the backend tool that processes payments for all the fees within your school program management software. These payments include before/aftercare program tuition, damaged laptop fines, club and activity fees, summer school and camps, community school programs, parking permits, class trips, and more. Plus, your payment solution can even help you fundraise for your school!
However, not all school payment processing systems are built equally— especially if your solution isn’t fully integrated.
Instead of a tool limited to solely transferring financial information back and forth between banks, school leaders would benefit from a comprehensive payment processor that is integrated with your program management solution:
- Manage and receive funds quickly – Receive funds into your bank account more quickly with online payments. Track deposits daily and manage your cash flow.
- No lost checks! – When it comes to you and your parents’’ financial data, you want the highest level of security. With the right school payment solution, you won’t have to deal with physical invoices and other sheets of paper, lessening any risk of important documents or checks getting lost in the shuffle.
- Contactless & convenient – Allow parents to make contactless payments at any time, online, and from anywhere. Parents can automate their payments and store their preferred card on file, perfect for programs that require recurring payments. Plus, customers can take advantage of discounts, make deposits, and receive bills automatically all online.
- Increased accessibility – A capable, SaaS-based school program management software with an integrated payment processing solution is the most effective and safest way to centralize your program data and provide access from wherever you are. When you have your data in the cloud, staff members can access financial information whether remote or in-office, safely and securely.
- Improved reporting and data tracking – Use financial reports and download payment processing statements to manage your financials. In addition, instead of manually tracking fees whenever parents miss a payment deadline or pick up their child late from your afterschool program, you can apply and track any fees so invoicing is a breeze.
Reduce the hassle of collecting, tracking, and depositing payments or chasing down bounced checks. With a school program management solution integrated with a robust payment processor, you exchange punching in credit card numbers for automated processes, enabling a safe, secure, and seamless payment experience.
What Are The Essential Features You Need In Your School Payment Processor?
To reap the full benefits listed above, seek out a school payment processing solution with these essential features:
- A fully integrated solution – Look for a school payment management system that includes the payment processor and gateway all-in-one. It should also be integrated with your school program management software. This enables you to automate your day-to-day activities and streamline tasks like creating invoices for deposits or customizing your pricing structure.
- PCI Compliance – The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard is the security standard for all organizations and businesses that handle online payments. To learn more about the specifics of PCI compliance and its different levels, we recommend visiting the official website.
- Acceptance of multiple payment types – Whether your customers want to pay with e-check, credit card, or debit card, your processor should do it all. However, don’t just limit yourself to online payments! Ensure your payment tool can also process check and cash payment options securely.
- Customizable billing periods and pricing structure – Depending on your school programs and what you offer, you might have a program with monthly billing or one that only has one payment upfront. Look for a system with customizable billing and pricing structures.
- Automatic bill pay and card on file options – One of the most tedious tasks for customers who are billed monthly is inputting the same payment information over and over. Instead, have parents set up automatic bill pay or enable saved card-on-file functionality. This way, parents can register for another program and use the payment already stored.
- Automatic late payment fees – An automatic late payment fee ensures that as soon as the payment deadline or grace period passes, a fee is charged directly to the customer, potentially reducing the chance that they won’t make a late payment again.
- Application of fees and full/partial refunds – You may have situations where you cancel a program or a student drops out of an activity, and you must issue a full or partial refund. You may also refund balances or apply credits to specific customer accounts.
- Acceptance of partial payments – With some payment software, you can help ease the cash flow burden on your parents by offering payment plans or early registration deposits, as well as sending the appropriate payment reminders.
- Flexible spending statements for parents – When it comes to taxes, having proof of payment is essential. Ensure that your school payment software can provide you with accurate flexible spending statements.
Investing in a payment processing solution that integrates with your school management software not only facilitates monetary transactions, but also customizes pricing structures, sets different discounts, accepts deposits, creates insightful financial reports, and more! Plus, you’ll have payment support from the same people who support your other school solutions.
What Differentiates CommunityPass’ School Payment Solution?
When it comes to school program management and payment collection, no one does it better than CommunityPass. We offer features like:
- 100% SaaS software and fully mobile-responsive design
- Customizable billing periods, auto bill pay, and automatic late payment fees
- Integrations with financial software and student information systems
- Access to 300+ pre-built reports as well as a customizable report building tool
- Ability to explore statistics on finances with the click of a button
- Access to a dedicated professional implementation and training team to help prepare your site as it goes live, as well as offer 24/7 ongoing customer support
CommunityPass’ top rated school program management and registration software also comes with a built-in, fully integrated payment processing solution called TogetherPay, powered by Stripe, to bring you these exceptional benefits:
- Competitive fixed rates – Payment processors typically charge a multitude of fees, including a transaction rate for each online payment. Some tools have monthly fees and other processes that end up charging your school more than you initially thought. With TogetherPay, the rates are fixed, with no monthly minimums or hidden fees.
- Transparent view of all finances and payment processing – With CommunityPass, you can access the online financial dashboard within the CommunityPass administrator console. Staff members with assigned permissions can easily view and download monthly statements, view deposits, and even dig into an individual deposit to reconcile the payment with the registration or purchase. Below is an example of what this dashboard looks like.
- Monthly statements – Financial statements are sent automatically to school administrators monthly.
- Daily settlement reporting – Need to create daily settlement reports? CommunityPass and TogetherPay allow you to view or download settlement payments.
- Card-present or card-not-present – TogetherPay can process both a “card-not-present” transaction as well as “card-present.” A card-not-present transaction occurs when neither the cardholder nor the card is physically present during the transaction. A card present transaction occurs when the payment details are captured in person at the time of the sale via an EMV terminal. CommunityPass supports processing payments online as well as in person!
- Multi-tender transactions – Customers shouldn’t have to worry about having enough funds on one payment type. TogetherPay allows you to process multiple payment types for a single transaction. For example, parents can pay half with cash and the remaining balance with a credit card.
- 24-48 hour fund deposits – The problem with large payment aggregators like PayPal is that the fund deposit time to your school’s bank account can take a while. Some third-party processors only cash out once a month! With CommunityPass and TogetherPay, we ensure 24-48 hour deposits.
- Powered by Stripe – CommunityPass uses Stripe to power TogetherPay, one of the largest payment processors in the world with the highest level of PCI compliance. Benefit from increased uptime, credit card auto-updating, and the validation of bank accounts for ACH payments. You can also leverage fully integrated, PCI compliant, EMV-enabled credit card terminals for in-person payments, allowing for greater payment flexibility— including contactless payments like Apple Pay and Google Pay— and increased checkout flexibility.
The best part of CommunityPass and TogetherPay? You no longer have to coordinate support between software and third-party eCommerce providers, since payment processing is built-in. Everything can be handled within CommunityPass— meaning you can sleep soundly knowing that payment questions or requests are handled by the same team that supports the software.
To see how this type of school payment solution can benefit you, let’s explore how CommunityPass helped the East Brunswick School District streamline program management and digitize and payment collection.
CommunityPass in Action: East Brunswick Public School District
“Before CommunityPass, there was no accountability or incentive for parents to make payments on time,” says Tara Rosenvinge, Senior Manager of Accounting at East Brunswick Public Schools. “We’d spend hours making phone calls and sending letters. Now, our accounts receivable have decreased significantly.”
The East Brunswick Public School District is one of the largest school districts in New Jersey, serving 8,300 students across 13 schools, with 9 active before and after care programs. Before partnering with CommunityPass in 2011, East Brunswick managed their program and finances for the entire district by hand:
- All payments had to be mailed or handed in, as credit card numbers over the phone were too risky.
- Billing statements and other notices had to be issued by mail, causing many customers to miss their payment deadlines, not at their own fault.
- Communications for late payments, pick-ups, and payment reminders further burdened the office staff with the task of manually printing and mailing statements.
East Brunswick knew that they needed a digital system to track payments and registration status. They needed a solution that would grow as they did, without breaking the budget or needing additional staff members. That’s where CommunityPass came in.
After partnering with CommunityPass, East Brunswick Public Schools began the process of digitizing their entire program management system. This meant:
- Registration forms, payments, invoices, payment reminders, and late payment fees all became digital, instant, and automated.
- E-checks became standard within the platform, further mitigating the need for manual check processing.
- Increased accountability for customers by having registrations and payments on the same platform.
- & more!
Thanks to CommunityPass’ school program management and payment processing solution, East Brunswick’s tripled revenue with credit cards representing the majority of the payment volume!
Interested in learning how exactly CommunityPass’ school payment solution helped the East Brunswick School District? Download our case study here.
We at CommunityPass work with schools of all sizes to ensure that their payment management system is best serving their needs. With our CommunityPass software platform, you get access to TogetherPay immediately! Not only is TogetherPay extremely convenient and already integrated with our management system, but it also ensures that you don’t have to do any additional work when it comes to researching the best payment processing tool to fit your current needs. With CommunityPass, everything you need is right there and ready to start working.
For more information and resources on how to best manage your programming, check out our additional resources:
- Afterschool Program Management Software | Learn The Basics. What do you need in your afterschool program management software in order to succeed? Find out in this comprehensive guide.
- School Registration Management Software: 2022 Buyer’s Guide. Learn more about shopping for and implementing school registration management software.
- Camp Registration Software: Have Your Best Summer Yet! Does your school have any summer or camp programming it offers? Make it the best summer yet with our guide to day camp software!
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