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Revenue accounting: Autonomy with controls

University Business, December 2013

When it comes to nontuition payments, college and university officials want the best of both worlds, says Daryl Robinson, director of higher education product development and strategy for Nelnet Business Solutions.

On the one hand, they’re expressing the need to centralize the accounting of revenue generated by departments across campus. On the other hand, there’s the realization this effort is often best handled by those individual departments.

“Essentially, what these schools want to say is, ‘Here’s the product, now you set it up based on department needs,’” Robinson explains. “Depending on the product, this approach works well.”

There has been greater movement towards centralized reporting of nontuition payments, he says. For institutions that can generate $100,000 or more in nontuition payments annually, technology is crucial in that endeavor. When you have so many people involved in that many transactions, taking place across multiple payment vendors, mistakes are going to happen, he says.

In his experience, the initial motivator for colleges and universities is for payment card industry (PCI) compliance, a process that usually moves institutions towards centralized reporting.

Robinsons says it’s possible to have it all. “If implemented properly, colleges can continue to provide the autonomy their departments want with the control, and easy reporting and reconciliation their central offices need.”