Every college strives to maximize electronic payments, but there will always be a need for departments to take in-person payments via check, cash, credit and debit card. Schools that handle these payments and the resulting departmental deposits the way they did 10 years ago, with paper forms and manual data entry, may be missing opportunities for efficiencies and savings. This web seminar, originally presented on April 26, 2012, looked at the benefits realized by the University of Illinois after implementation of the Nelnet cashiering solution.
Product Manager, Cashiering
Nelnet Business Solutions
Colleges and universities must deal every day with cash transactions. Campus departments might receive payments for academic transcripts, parking or other business. Professors may be reimbursed for travel when they are guest lecturers or speakers. Campus events such as art exhibits or lectures may take payments at the door from non-students and other visitors.
Cashiering applications offer reduced cash handling, double-custody control, reduced costs for armored courier service and facilitate getting money to the bank more quickly. Reduction in data entry also reduces errors. Customized forms reduce paper usage and automating deposits minimizes opportunities for errors such as math mistakes and incorrect accounts.
Changes in other technologies are often an impetus for colleges to move toward a cashiering solution as a replacement for cash transactions. Decentralization is another reason for cashiering automation.
The University of Illinois had five main objectives:
- Improve efficiencies for central and remote business offices
- Leverage expertise
- Involve multiple stakeholders including auditors
- Utilize existing tools and resources
- Identify and communicate the benefits
By using Nelnet’s Cashiering transaction designer, institutions are able to tailor transactions to the needs of the campus. Transactions are easily configurable. Redundant data entry is eliminated. Departments are able to enter their own data, balance their work and directly deposit the money to the bank. The University of Illinois refers to this as self-service cashiering.
Compliance is managed because the easy to configure forms enable restrictions or business rules to be embedded in forms.
Nelnet Cashiering creates a detailed audit trail and is easy to query, and reporting is readily available to authorized staff for review and analysis.
Director, Customer Service
and Cashier Operations
University of Illinois
We are a Banner site and we implemented Nelnet Cashiering in March 2011.
We have three main campuses with more than 77,000 students and 400 cash-handling business offices. There is a cashier office on each main campus and all use Nelnet Cashiering. We process more than 1,500 transactions per week that range from students paying a bill, department deposits, staff voucher payouts and petty cash administration.
We are just getting started with self-service cashiering in various stages of deployment at four of our business offices. One has been up and running since January.
The objectives were:
- Reduce data entry errors
- Reduce form handling and cash counting
- Enforce compliance and ensure audit procedure
- Keep it simple!
We wanted to leverage the experience of our staff to be involved in the training, to provide research and assistance, and to extend their role.
Some of the benefits we identified were:
- Departments are aware of the timing and entry of postings. They were no longer dependent on us. It was in their hands.
- It was easy to implement, load and start using. There were minimum system requirements. Everywhere we have implemented so far, there were no requirements for new software or hardware for staff to start using Cashiering on their machine.
- The flexibility to create our own entry forms makes it very easy to meet each department’s needs. We can make fields required, we can pre-populate forms, we can add optional fields.
- Transaction reporting is easy and on-demand. Searches are easy.
- The system is easy to use and corrections are easy to make. You really can’t mess anything up.
We chose to utilize Nelnet Cashiering to create remote cashiering locations after getting comfortable with it in our main office. The next step was to figure out who were the best candidates to begin working in the system. We wanted to work with offices that had daily deposits, deposit directly to the bank and already consistently comply with policies and procedures.
We created one or two customized entry forms for each business office.
The program utilizes a single sign-on so employees log in with their university ID.
An example of an entry form is one we created for our parking department. The first field creates a form number—a unique ID that will feed to Banner and remain with the transaction. The user enters an amount and appropriate codes; then there is an optional notes field. That information does not feed to Banner, but can be stored with the transaction. This is used for optional information, such as a check number.
Departments are required to close each day by 3 p.m. This close-out process is the same one our main office cashiers use. They run a register audit report, review the transactions and activity, reconcile their cash and checks, balance and then run the end- of-day report. All of this can take just a few minutes.
Our office also does daily reconciliations comparing Nelnet cashiering reports to Banner reporting to ensure end-to-end verification of activity from department to bank, bank and the cashiering activity, and finally through cashiering to Banner.
Some lessons we’ve learned so far in our deployment:
- The approach has to offer a win-win for the business office. If there is no additional value or appreciable benefit, it’s a tough sell.
- Since the business office retains the backup information, they have to accept responsibility for retaining all that backup information. This may lead to a new audit requirement.
- Involve the staff in the process so they can see the value of the contributions they are making.
- We had a strong and capable systems support team that helped us design the custom forms, creating the training and documentation. This was a key to our success.
- Business offices really need to communicate and document their new procedures.
To view this web seminar in its entirety, please go to bit.ly/ws042612.