Online Payment Basics 

Schools that switch to digital payments should embrace a centralized digital payment system so that all funds route through the same place, regardless of how or when someone pays. A quality digital payment system can still track cash payments, so there’s no need for a piecemeal approach that cobbles together several different apps. With a single system, schools reduce the risk of security issues and lost data.

To take full advantage of a digital payment system and its benefits, encourage as many payers as possible to switch to online payments. More online payments mean better records, fewer fraud attempts, and a reduction in the use of payment-related resources.To create a hands-off payment process, set up multiple deposit accounts to automatically allocate money to the right account, eliminating the need to support funds and reduce loss and accounting errors.

Perhaps most importantly, schools should transform every fee received into a digital payment. If some fees are left out of automation, a school may still struggle with the perils of cash transactions. Some important fees that schools might overlook include: 

  • Field trip fees 
  • Out-of-schooltime and after-school program fees 
  • School meal payments 
  • Transportation fees 
  • Spirit wear  
  • Exam fees such as AP and SAT 
  • Athletic fees 
  • Fall registration fees 

Tips for Transitioning to a Cashless Payment System

To immediately gain the benefits of digital payments without inconveniencing families, try these strategies: 

  • Continue accepting cash payments: Some families may not have bank accounts or debit cards, so an entirely cashless system excludes them. Look for a solution that allows for tracking and receipting of cash payments like ActivityRight. 
  • Offer additional resources to families with low incomes: Families do not always need a bank account or credit card to pay digitally. Some online applications may help families switch to digital options. 
  • Inform families of the new payment option: Particularly in districts where digital payments are new, families may not realize the possibility exists until they receive a notification. Send out an email, include a note on payment forms, and place stickers near payment locations indicating the types of payments the school accepts. 
  • Find a better way to use payment resources: The switch to accepting digital payments may provide flexibility with other school resources. Find a way to redirect these funds to the communities the school serves in the form of student enrichment programs, meaningful community events, higher teacher and staff salaries, or additional student resources. 

The world is moving away from cash. While cash payments remain an important payment pathway to plan for families who might not have access to banks or payment cards, districts can gain a lot to be gained by defining a concrete digital payment solution.To learn more, download our free ebook, How to Help Your Organization Become a Cashless School.

Download Cashless School Ebook

We regularly share guidance and insights on parent-school communication and fee management.