Schools are always looking for ways to improve payment processes; making them efficient for schools and simple for families is crucial to protecting tuition, optimizing staff workflows, and building community. This case study was developed from a Veracross webinar moderated by Don Humpton, Director of Sales. View the webinar. Jennifer De la Cruz of Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, California describes how their search for an integrated, family-friendly tuition management solution ultimately led them to switch from FACTS to VC Pay.
It would often take up to two weeks for us to see money deposited in our accounts and then even later to be subsequently posted to the account in the parent portal.
Challenges with tuition management
Jennifer De la Cruz, Accounts Receivable and Tuition Assistance Coordinator, has been with Pacific Ridge for ten years and is well acquainted with payment processing challenges they faced with their previous system. Pacific Ridge was using FACTS to process tuition payments . All other incidental billing was done in-house. As Jennifer describes it, “the biggest challenge was the timing that we received our monies. It would often take up to two weeks for us to see money deposited in our accounts and then even later to be subsequently posted to the account in the parent portal.”
This significant lag time created similarly significant work for De la Cruz, as parents were regularly logging into their parent portal only to see an outstanding balance – even if they had submitted a payment 2-3 weeks prior. The need for family clarification via email and phone calls demanded a large amount of her time and attention. Timing issues were not the only challenge of using FACTS. She says, “I’m a person who thrives on efficiency, so the other big issue was just the amount of manual labor to simply set up a payment portal – not only in the parent portal, but within this third-party system. And it wasn’t just work for me, but for our parents too since there was required maintenance for them to re-up their account annually.”
Modifications to payment schedules were also complex and multi-step. This was a particular problem when De la Cruz was working with families on a monthly payment plan who often needed flexibility.
Our parents really appreciate that they can now do everything under a one-stop-shop login right in their VC parent portal.
Moving to VC Pay
Pacific Ridge’s Business Office went live with the Veracross student information system on July 1, 2020 and moved all payment processing, both tuition and incidental, over to VC Pay. The last phase of implementation is slated for this coming spring 2020 and will include Admissions, allowing all admission fees to be processed by VC Pay as well.
Parents praised the new system, particularly for the single login. “Our parents really appreciate that they can now do everything under a one-stop-shop login right in their VC parent portal,” says De la Cruz. She also noted that the use of the VC wallet feature that securely saves login information has been “a really great timesaver for parents.”
The payment posting process is now literally the click of two buttons
The lag time and delayed payment postings disappeared once Pacific Ridge transitioned to VC Pay. De la Cruz says, “Now, when parents make a payment, it is immediately noted as a pending payment on their billing page right in their parent portal.” The wait time for monies to hit accounts and officially post to the parent account went from 2-3 weeks to just a couple of days.
The benefits weren’t exclusive to the parent experience; the Business Office saw major gains as well. “The payment posting process is now literally the click of two buttons instead of a full import/export and full check of all details. For me, that was huge,” says De la Cruz. An added surprise benefit came from the VC Pay option to automate incidental payments as well. While not all families take advantage of this option, De la Cruz reports that it has saved time and relived even more work from her daily tasks.
Beyond all of this, De la Cruz appreciates the leap in efficiency provided by the autopay feature. Pacific Ridge chose to require autopay for any family selecting the monthly tuition payment option, the setup of which is included in the enrollment or re-enrollment process. De la Cruz explains that this is not a just a workflow improvement for the families. “It has almost fully eliminated our collections. Other than quickly handling payment modifications, there’s virtually no need for collection phone calls. Because everything is setup at one time and then automated from there, we only have easily-accommodated exceptions for families who many need us to exclude or modify a payment, especially amidst COVID. That was one of the biggest things for me.”
Perhaps most importantly, VC Pay equipped Pacific Ridge to act on their school values by offering compassion, empathy, and pragmatic help to their families affected by the pandemic. “We decided back in March when it all started that we were going to be very gentle with the financial needs of our families and take care of any necessary exclusions or modifications with no questions asked,” says De la Cruz. She describes the flexibility and payment modifications available in VC Pay as “a huge comfort to both the school and our families.”