Ask any taxpayer who impatiently begins checking the mailbox within days of filing an income tax return: People may wait until the last minute to pay a bill, but when owed a refund, they want it as quickly as possible.
And so the manual refund process at American Public University System (W.Va.) was problematic. Financial aid refunds at the fully online school took up to 10 days to process; nonfinancial aid refunds could take up to twice that time. And that was with staff members who did nothing but process refunds full time.
“Over the last five years, the volume of refunds we were processing to students was increasing,” says Melissa Frey, vice president for finance operations. “We were processing a little over 5,000 refunds a month. Our goal to provide better service for our students as well as our employees was to be able to process daily refunds to ensure that credit balances were leaving our institution quicker to get to students.”