When it comes to student billing and payments, it’s essential that schools have the best tools to manage data and maintain an accurate financial ledger. Without those tools, your students’ status and payments could be at risk. Upgrading to an integrated student information system (SIS) with school billing software can significantly improve efficiency, transparency, and ultimately enhance your school’s financial position.
A modern, cloud-based SIS with a built-in billing and finance module provides tools to improve key operations. For instance, online payment collection allows students to access their accounts and make quick online payments. Additionally, the finance department can efficiently communicate with students and share data with colleagues in other offices, such as admissions, the registrar, and student services.
When you consider the benefits of an SIS with integrated student billing and finance, it becomes clear this is a smart choice for schools of any size. However, at many schools, the finance office isn’t well equipped with the best software or tools. They may have outdated software that doesn’t integrate with the SIS or, even worse, the department may be using its own software and operating in an isolated environment. That hinders cooperation, transparency, and efficiency.
In this post, we will cover:
Why the Finance Office Should Use an Integrated SIS
Proper financial management is crucial for any educational institution, be it a university, college or career school.
The finance department plays a vital role in handling student billing and payment information and directly impacts your school’s financial health. Tuition is a key source of revenue for institutions across the board. If students’ financial information, including their tuition balances and payment history, isn’t accurate and accessible, it can have far-reaching effects across campus.
Unfortunately, many schools face a technology gap with their finance and billing. These departments frequently lack the technology tools the staff need to optimize their work processes. Even worse, they may use their own software and procedures that don’t integrate with the school’s SIS. This disjointed approach can lead to account errors and restricts other departments’ access to important information.
Implementing an integrated SIS with a billing and payment module equips the finance department with important tools. These options include reporting modules, a searchable database and an online portal so students can check their balances and make payments. Simple features such as automated reminders, which can be configured with an integrated SIS, can greatly improve the timeliness of payments.
Using the same SIS across departments, including the finance office, fosters collaboration and ensures accurate data management. By working from a single source of truth, different departments can exchange real-time information and maintain transparency. This benefits stakeholders across campus, including admissions and the registrar. For instance, if the student billing software shows an outstanding balance and the registrar can access that information, they can flag a student’s class registration pending payment. Effective communication and accurate data are critical to keeping a student’s education on track and keeping essential staff informed.
How School Billing Software Helps Finance Departments
A school’s billing and finance office is a vital intermediary between the institution and its students and the source of essential information. An integrated SIS can significantly enhance the efficiency and accuracy of that work.
Here are some key ways an integrated SIS with school billing software improves back-office and finance operations:
Automated billing and payment: An integrated SIS eliminates heavy lifting. Instead of staff manually updating student accounts and records, an SIS with school billing software automatically monitors and updates student financial records as enrollment and registration information are received and monitors payments.
Users can create workflows that document what is owed, when notifications are sent, when payments are received, and, if there is a balance, when those alerts are sent.
Real-time notifications can be sent to students regarding outstanding balances, payment receipts, reminders about upcoming payments, and alerts about late payments.
These functions streamline transactions, ensure accurate financial records, and help students stay organized.
Enhanced security: A cloud-based SIS creates crucial layers of security to protect sensitive personal and financial information that flows through the business office, including personal information, credit card numbers, and bank account details.
Storing student’s personal financial information in unsecured spreadsheets, emails or even paper files is replaced by an encrypted, secure cloud-based system.
Administrators can configure permissions to restrict access to only necessary staff, further securing important records.
Improved communication with students: An SIS with a built-in customer relationship management tool (CRM) allows administrators to set up automated notifications, such as upcoming payments, payment reminders, and payment confirmation. This helps students stay on tracks and allows the staff to monitor the ledger without manually sending individual messages or reminders.
Increased transparency and information sharing: When all departments use the same SIS, they can easily access common data and share information. This improves overall operations and allows staff to work more efficiently. For example, admissions can see if a student has paid their application fees, and the registar can quickly see if a student has a hold on their account within the system.
Faster payments: A convenient and secure online payment portal provided through the student finance module allows students to make payments electronically, which are faster, more reliable and more secure than mailing a check or calling with an account servicer with credit card information.
Improved record keeping: An SIS with a school billing and finance module allows finance employees to keep their records within a single system accessible to authorized personnel. If the SIS supports integration with third-party software, data can be exported from the SIS into those programs, ensuring the use of the most accurate billing statement data.
Coordinate with financial aid: When the school billing software is integrated with the SIS, it facilitates more transparent communications regarding financial aid. If financial aid is included in a billing statement, the student and the finance staff can see an accurate record of outstanding costs and payment applied.
Through the system, staff can swiftly and accurately communicate to the student the exact amount of money that they owe and when payments are due. Students can view their charges after deducting the financial aid they have received.
On the other hand, if the student billing doesn’t incorporate real-time financial aid information, there’s a risk a student won’t have the most up-to-date financials, leading to potential delays or overpayments.
Third-party app integration: Many schools use third-party accounting software for bookkeeping, payables and financial reporting. With a robust and integrated SIS, seamless integration with these and other programs is possible by exporting student account data and spreadsheets. That allows the finance staff to populate their reports with the most accurate and timely billing information.
How Campus Cafe Software Streamlines School Billing and Finance
Campus Cafe offers an all-in-one SIS with a built-in school billing and finance module that helps improve billing and finance practices. By implementing an integrated SIS, you can provide your students with more convenient options, expedited payments and notifications, and gain a real-time understanding of the overall student financial ledger.
Our student information system includes the following:
- Student account portal: Our user-friendly and intuitive account portal lets students access their financial records, view current and past transactions, and make payments. In cases where outstanding and overdue payments exist, your school can temporarily put a student’s account on hold until they settle their dues.
- Secure online bill payment: Students can make direct payments through a secure and encrypted interface on the school’s website. Electronic payments are convenient and stress-free for students, and they enable faster payments to schools. When payments are posted, the system automatically updates the students’ accounts.
- More efficient payments: No more waiting for paper checks to arrive and clear. When students make online payments, it saves staff time on manual data entry and account entries.
- Billing notifications and updates via CRM: Our built-in CRM allows users to send regular payment reminders via text, email or mail, and schedule follow up reminders. Administrators can configure notifications based on events, such as sending out a notification after a student makes a payment.
- Payment plans: We provide schools with the flexibility to configure a payment schedule that meets your students’ needs. Payments can be made over a specified number of days, on specific dates or intervals, or as a percentage of the total due. This feature offers students convenience and flexibility. It also helps the finance office effectively manage collections.
- Fee customization: If your school implements late fees or a credit card fee, our system can be easily configured to add those amounts to a student’s billing statement.
- Cash management: An integrated billing system enables your school to maintain accurate financial records. Given that tuition payments contribute significantly to a school’s budget, timely access to payment data aids in budgeting and managing cash flow.
By better organizing your school’s financial processes and data management, you can ensure smoother campus operations. Our integrated SIS that connects all departments, providing stakeholders with a better view of your school’s financial health.
Are you ready to streamline student billing and improve your school’s cash flow? Contact us today for a demo of our school billing software.