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Offering more choices for making tuition payments

Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla., has been using Higher One's tuition payment services since August 2008. Richard Jacobs, Flagler's director of student accounts, discusses the school's experience with electronic tuition payment options.

Our process was pretty much like everybody else’s. It was all about paper and very time consuming.

We’ve been a test site for Higher One’s OnePay tuition payment service since last August. We give our students and their families several choices for paying their tuition bills electronically.

The first option is e-check. From a link on the Flagler website, a student or parent connects to our Higher One service and enters information as if they were writing a paper check. The money is transferred instantly from their bank account to ours.

That’s a no minimum balance, no monthly fee, FDIC-Insured checking account that Higher One offers to our students. Typically a parent will transfer funds to their child’s OneAccount, which they can do online, and then the student makes the tuition payment. They can do it on the Web or they can come to the bursar’s office and pay with their Debit MasterCard?, which is tied to their OneAccount.

Yes, tuition bills can be paid by credit card through our arrangement with Higher One. There is a convenience fee associated with this option, which is standard practice. That fee does not come to the institution; it goes to the processor.

This will be for the fall term. Students or parents will be able to set up an automatic monthly payment plan throughHigher One, where the payments will transfer directly from their bank accounts to ours.

Students today are used to doing business on their time. They want to be able to pay their tuition bill at 2 or 3 in the morning. They don’t want to be told they have to come to your office between 8 and 5 and then find you’re closed for lunch from 12 to 1. And it’s not just the students who want this flexibility. Our parents have asked for it too. We’re looking at setting up an email or SMS notification system to remind parents when tuition payments are due.

The customer service from Higher One has been tremendous; we’ve gotten nothing but praise. And of course Higher One is behind the scenes and parents think they’re dealing with us, so it’s a great reflection on our institution.