About 3 in 10 Americans make zero cash purchases each week. The wallets of those who do carry cash usually contain less than $50. Parents are no exception. Paying fees in cash may delay payments and waste everyone’s time. Yet, many schools continue to accept checks and other forms of payment, despite security risks associated with these payment methods. Seventy-one percent of companies that accept checks have experienced fraud or attempted fraud, and returned checks are a common challenge. Some schools have no option for online payments, delaying payments and potentially affecting enrollment. Switching to digital payments can swiftly lower costs, improve the parents’ experience when paying school activity fees, and reduce or eliminate the costs of check processing.
Reasons to Consider Digital School Activity Fees
Digital payments for school activity fees mitigate stress, improve payment compliance, and can reduce the time and money schools spend processing payments and collecting debts. Some key benefits of switching to digital payments include the following:
- Digital payments give school districts a centralized digital database of payments and payment-related activities. This can help with accounting, payment disputes, and budgeting.
- Online payments increase efficiency and collaboration across departments. No more chasing down payments, calling around the district to determine whether a payment has been received, or referring an exhausted parent to a long line of administrators to find their payment.
- Digital payments for school activity fees reduce the total burden on the teachers, administrators, and the financial team. They’ll spend less time on collections, payment tracking, and accounting records. Your district will reduce silos and delays, and follow standardized, preapproved payment workflows.
- Because paying is easier, parents may be more likely to pay on time and in full.
A Better Experience for Parents, Family Members, and Staff
Families, parents, and other stakeholders may prefer digital payments for school fees. Even when stakeholders have no clear preference, online payments can support better, more positive interactions with the school in the following ways:
- Online payments are more convenient. They align with modern preferences for payments and communications.
- Digital payments are more transparent, enabling parents to view their account and understand all charges.
- A cashless payment system is highly efficient. Parents can pay whenever it is convenient, without taking time off of work, coming into the school, or waiting on hold.
- Digitized payments waste fewer resources. The transparency can reduce confusion and miscommunication, requiring fewer hours devoted to tracking payments, explaining bills, and helping parents manage their accounts.
Less Risk and Liability
Digital payments create automatic processes for financial record-keeping, which can reduce liability and financial losses with the following benefits:
- Reduced reliance on cash: When parents have the option to pay without cash, they may choose other more convenient options like digital payments. The less cash a school handles, the lower the risk of misappropriation and loss becomes.
- Increased security: Online payment gateways are more secure, particularly when properly encrypted. Fewer physical or unsecured records mean less risk of the exposure of sensitive data.
- Better integration: Student integration system (SIS) and general ledger integration reduces manual data entry and transmission, enabling schools to assign accounting codes to payments automatically.
- Traceable audit trail: Online payments create a clear, traceable record for audits, taxes, payment disputes, and legal issues.
- Clear payment information: Explaining payment and billing histories to parents demands significant time and resources. With clearer records, parents can track their own payments and understand where their money goes. They can access receipts 24/7 through the mobile-friendly online solution.
Digital payments improve communication between schools and families, as well as across schools and departments within a system. This can reduce conflict and create efficiency in other processes since staff spend less time on payment issues. Some key benefits include:
- Notifications and payment reminders are always up-to-date. Timely notifications help parents pay on time and make it easier for them to understand their accounts without a call to the school.
- Staff spend less time on phone calls, emails, and office visits. Staff has the freedom to focus on the school’s daily life, supporting students, and other vital services.
- Approval workflows support collaboration and communication between teams. There are fewer phone calls and emails devoted to tracking payments, fostering deeper, and less stressful communication.
To learn more about the benefits of digital payments for school activity fees, download our free ActivityRight ebook, How to Help Your Organization Become a Cashless School.