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Getting centered: Payment processing controls

University of Alabama centralizes oversight in the student receivables office
University Business, December 2013

Upon deciding that a more uniform approach was required when it came to the nontuition revenue being generated by departments across campus, The University of Alabama officials established policies designed to regain control of what had been, up to that point, highly decentralized.

Segmented into three areas—revenue-generating operations, credit card operations, and eCommerce ventures—the policies centralized the oversight and handling of funds within the student receivables office.

For example, funds derived from revenue-generating operations must be deposited and recorded by student receivables. “This allows for one central system to be the cash receipts recording mechanism, and provides a means for SR to verify funds, oversee timeliness of depositing, identify problem areas and so on,” says Carlene Jones, director of receivables and collections.

Additionally, only specific student receivables personnel are authorized to contact the depositing bank and/or merchant services providers—providing the revenue-generating operations as well as the depositing banks and merchants services providers with one point of contact.

SR also maintains central records on all credit card operations, says Jones. UA has established a credit card-only account, where all such funds are deposited. This bank account is reconciled monthly by SR to the revenue recorded by departments during that month.

To facilitate the establishment of eCommerce ventures and provide user security, UA purchased TouchNet Marketplace. “The payment portal connected to the TouchNet gateway, which UA had already licensed for student account web payments,” says Jones. “This allowed SR to assist departments in their desire to do eCommerce within a safe environment.”

Departments welcomed the advice and guidance the policies provided, says Jones, adding that they “were quite willing to change processes as needed.”