This is part two of our “Friction” series. Check out Parts One to catch up.
Many students struggle to get the course materials they need when they need them—and too much of that is due to suboptimal campus payments methods. When this happens, it can be discouraging to students who depend on financial aid and makes it that much harder for students to achieve their goals.
What can be especially discouraging is that the difficulties can be smoothed out pretty easily and reducing this friction can have a big impact.
Although students are spending less on course materials than ever before and new programs continue to offer many new benefits, a large number of students still miss out on the opportunity to pay for items with their eligible funds. When this happens, they often are impacted negatively:
85% of students say they delay or avoid purchasing required course materials. 91% of those students say it was due to cost and 50% of them say that it negatively impacted their grades.
Since more than 85% of students get some form of financial aid, accessing these funds is an effective way for them to buy course materials. The aid created for this purpose exists and often it’s a matter of connecting students and aid when they need it. However, as we reported earlier, around one-half of campus stores still can’t connect to FA and non-campus sellers are not equipped to take FA funds.
That’s a missed opportunity.
Additionally, fast-growing programs like Inclusive Access offer lower-cost digital materials with the promise of charging those course materials directly to the student’s account.
However, one step in the IA billing process can still “stick” and cause students to pay instead of aid covering the fees, particularly when students have sources of aid that might not be managed by the Bursar’s Office, as is often the case with third-party sponsored funds.
Smooth-running IA billing processes will evaluate all sources of student’s funds so financial aid or sponsors cover that student’s expenses. However, these connections aren’t always simple or dependable. We hear too often of manual or ad-hoc payment processing solutions which leave staff stuck maintaining spreadsheets and doing file uploads. Bringing the cost benefits of these programs to more students on campus does not need to result in more work for staff. Timing and churn can result in students’ fees not getting covered by aid when they should be. Again, this is an unnecessary burden on students.
With students relying so heavily on financial aid, smoothing these processes out can make instant and measurable improvements in student success.
We encourage campuses to read through our services or check with their peers on how to streamline financial aid for course materials – both at the store and with your digital programs.
Stay tuned for the next part of our payment friction series. In Part 3 we discuss how friction makes the Campus Store less able to serve students.