Sometimes there is a process impacting a select group of students that takes an outsized amount of time to manage. The process is important as those students cannot be ignored and it’s often of critical importance to those students’ success. But the process is dreaded because it’s painstakingly manual, it requires constant updating, and reporting is close to non-existent. For many campus store managers, this describes the extra work it takes to administer third-party programs such as Veteran’s Affairs, the Office of Rehabilitation, and sponsors such as athletics, departmental charges, or other scholarships unique to the college.
Unlike Federal financial aid dollars, which cover tuition, housing, and other costs first, these third-party aid programs give students a critical source of funds to use at the campus store or for other select purposes. Thousands, tens of thousands or even millions in aid is supplied through these aid sources on a given campus. The campus store must often manage its use and it’s a significant undertaking.
We’re happy to report that there is now a better way – with Sponsored Account Management from Watchman Payment Systems, which we refer to as “SAM”.
Each sponsored account typically has its own rules controlling the amount of the award, and restrictions about the items that are eligible for purchase by a student recipient of that award. Furthermore, some awards allow for tax-exempt purchases, while others follow normal sales tax guidelines. Other awards may have restrictions that only allow students to purchase required course materials, and not just any course materials.
Rules and restrictions can quickly cause the administration of these programs to become time-consuming and arduous. If it’s not done right, then it becomes challenging for the store to get reimbursed after the rush period.
SAM solves each of these challenges with a modern intuitive interface that gives campus stores the software platform needed to manage every student with any type of award. Once configured, students can simply present their student ID at any register, and SAM does the work to determine if the items in their cart are eligible to be paid for by the student’s award, greatly minimizing training requirements for cashiers. SAM also eliminates the need for dedicated registers that students are required to use for third-party awards.
The rapid growth of programs such as “Inclusive Access” have had the unintended consequence of creating more work for the people managing sponsored accounts. Students are understandably discontent when their IA charge hits their bursar account without being applied first to their sponsored account funds. Watchman solves this problem too by first checking for available funds managed in SAM before posting a charge for any remaining balance to the student’s account in the Student Information System (SIS). For more information about Watchman’s Automated Inclusive Access Billing solution, click here.
SAM works with any service that supports Financial Aid billing in the SIS too. Whether it’s Bursar Billing Services, a service offered by the Campus or Campus POS, or another third party, SAM can integrate with them all using Watchman’s STEP platform.
SAM is designed to provide you with enormous flexibility in the way you handle your third-party accounts. Depending on the needs of the college and the store, SAM can be configured to post charges to the SIS periodically or in real time. Alternatively, Watchman has designed transaction reporting capabilities that can be customized to create invoices to assist with the process of getting reimbursed from the various award sponsors.
Finally, we’ve automated the reconciliation process, making it easy to compare student transaction activity at the register with the charges that have been recorded in SAM, giving you complete visibility and oversight over the program. Coupled with robust dashboard reports, managing sponsored accounts to benefit your students has never been easier!