Bursar’s Office introduces online student billing and payments

Sending out student bills and collecting and processing payments has long been a time-consuming chore for the Bursar’s Office, but a new automated system allowing students to pay online is making things easier at both ends.

Since the QuikPAY system was introduced in late October, says bursar Tom Mathers, about 700 transactions have been processed without any problems. “We’ve had no complaints and no news is good news as far as I’m concerned,” he said. With more than 20,000 spring semester bills due to go out Dec. 10, the staff is confident that QuikPay is ready for its next test.

Using QuikPAY, a widely used software package, the Bursar’s Office e-mails students every time a new billing statement is generated, according to Erin Zuzula, assistant bursar.

Using the campus’ SPIRE records system, students can open a pdf version of their bills, print copies and pay through electronic transfers from checking or savings accounts in U.S. banks. “It’s in real-time,” said Zuzula. “It’s almost self-service.”

Secure payments can also be made with most major credit cards, although there is a fee associated with card payments. About half of the student who used the system to date paid through bank transfers, said Mathers.

The service is available 24 hours a day from any location on the Internet. The convenience of online billing is something the current generation of undergraduates expects, said Zuzula. “Students coming here now have always known the Internet.”

QuikPAY also ensures that payments are immediately applied to students’ accounts and users can authorize third parties, such parents and guardians, to view and pay the bills. The system can also be used to review past bills.

QuikPAY came highly recommended, said Mathers. “It’s the premier online billing software.”

The system, marketed by Nelnet, an educational planning and education finance company based in Lincoln, Neb., is used by many universities around the country, including Ohio State, Case Western Reserve, Pitt, Indiana and Oregon.

While the QuikPAY system is rolled out, the Bursar’s Office is still mailing out paper bills to students, said Mathers. Along with those bills, students will receive more information on the automated system, which he hopes will spur more use of QuikPAY.

While the focus is on improved service to students and their families, said Zuzula, QuikPAY may eventually generate some savings for the Bursar’s Office by reducing staff time spent fielding phone calls, providing copies of bills for tax records and the hours spent processing payments.

“September is when we see our highest volume,” said Mathers. “We have to put people on overtime to process bills. We bring in staff from Accounts Payable and temps to handle the workload.”

Using QuikPAY should also eliminate the time lag from when a bill payment is received and when it is deposited into campus accounts, he said. Typically, it takes four days for a payment to make its way into University coffers, but QuikPAY is virtually instantaneous, he said.

Zuzula said the office hasn’t heard much from students about QuikPAY, except for those who work in the Bursar’s Office. “The student staff love it,” she said. “It helps them to help other students with their bills.”

Mathers said his office is planning a publicity blitz to make more students aware of the service. More e-mails will be sent to students and advertisements in the Collegian and on the campus’ cable television system are also in the works. Communications with parents about the system are being coordinated with Student Affairs, he said.