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Online Payment Adoption in the K-12 Space

A student’s household needs to get money into the hands of the school district for several apparent reasons; tuition, assigned fees, meal accounts, etc. With the emergence of e-commerce over the past twenty-plus years, the public has welcomingly responded to the idea of online payments. Simply put, the efficacy and efficiency of an instantaneous online transaction have become the norm, and public expectation for online payment options within the K-12 space has become increasingly assumed.
If your school district has never applied for or been previously overlooked for an award from this grant, this is not the year to be complacent.

Online Payment Adoption

Online Payment Adoption is explained as a measure of how well the district, schools, and households and communities are taking advantage of the benefits that online payments provide. For maximal advantage, a district must adopt and implement a system that inherently persuades households to pay online.

District Adoption

Consider all possible financial transactions between a school district and a student’s household. As mentioned earlier, there will be the collection of tuition (for private schools), assigned fees, and funding of meal accounts (or point-of-sale transaction in the cafeteria). Ticketing and events, field trips, extracurriculars, summer camps, fundraisers, donations, and merchandise sales are often less frequently thought of but are becoming increasingly recurrent.
District adoption of online payments refers to the portion of all these transactions with an online payment option available. In other words, how well is the district implementing online payment options?

Household / Community Adoption

Let’s assume a district has 100% adoption of online payments, meaning that for every imminent transaction, there is an available option for the household to handle it online. Household/community adoption refers to the portion of these transactions that could occur online actually do occur online. Said otherwise, how well is the community taking advantage of the online payment options currently offered?

Why Online Payments Matter

If appropriately implemented in partnership with a suitable software suite, online payment adoption can facilitate movement to a cashless system that is convenient, efficient, effective, and secure, satisfying the needs of districts and communities simultaneously.

Potential District Benefit

When considering potential benefits to the school district, IT outsourcing, accounting ease, and expedited liability reduction immediately come to mind. In an abbreviated review:
  • A district could painstakingly develop a web portal for online payments, but this requires constant maintenance and can become segmented interdepartmentally. A software suite that coordinates all possible transactions into a singular portal that a third party ultimately maintains is much more efficient.
  • Being able to import online transactions effortlessly and automatically to the district’s accounting software makes a treasurer’s job much more manageable. At the same time, the ability to customize general ledger (GL) codes alleviates accounting mishaps.
  • While face-to-face cash transactions must occur during a school’s operating hours, which is often inconvenient for working parents, online transactions can happen 24/7. The overall convenience of online payment availability can quickly reduce household balances due.
  • Online payment systems often enable better communication between districts and households. Single sign-on portals allow parents to see what is owed. Automatic email reminders with direct linking to payment options are cost-effective and efficient.

Potential Household / Community Benefit

A district’s potential benefit is moot if the household/community doesn’t immediately notice the inherent advantage of using the online payment system. For example:
  • Parents and guardians find it easier to avoid the added burden of a trip to the school.
  • With the right software, parents can handle multiple debts with reduced transactions. Meal accounts can be funded while an equipment fee is being paid, as well as the field trip being taken care of, etc.
  • Households have the option of multiple payment methods. For some, paying directly from a bank account with debit or ACH transactions is favorable. For others, a credit transaction may be beneficial due to an immediate lack of available funds, or to rack up those credit card rewards.

Not All Systems Are Created Equal

Not all online payment options will carry the same benefit potential. The solution presented by i3 Education is a united system that will handle a district’s current needs, with unlimited potential to further online payment adoption. Backed by award-winning customer service supporting this one-of-a-kind and easy-to-use self-service software, any district can adopt online payment options at any depth, with room to grow.
For whatever transaction needs to be offered online, a staff or faculty member can easily add that associated fee to the system. The appropriate GL code can also be connected or split proportionally from a single fee. Being fully customizable, that fee can then be assigned to a single student, every student, or just a specific group. An alert can then be sent electronically to the household notifying them of the fee(s). Once logging in to the online portal, the parent can see all fees assigned to them, select which they would like to take care of, and pay for those fees in a single transaction. Since i3’s software suite is congruent, parents don’t have to switch portals to add funds to the meal account. Additionally, this platform can be used with guest checkout functionality, which is helpful when grandparents want to help financially, or a school makes a public appeal for a charitable donation. Lastly, seamless integration with industry-leading student information systems and accounting software makes all recordkeeping instantaneous and consistent.
Within the online payment world and beyond, i3 Education continues to make schools stronger, safer, and smarter.
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