Ellucian partnership simplifies family payments and reconciliation processes
October 18, 2021 - In 2016, Monmouth University officials received word from their existing vendor that it could no longer process their student refunds due to new federal cash management regulation changes. Campus administrators decided to take advantage of this opportunity to identify a partner that could serve their entire business office instead of relying on numerous solution providers.
At the time, the university worked with multiple vendors to manage bill presentation, payment plans, e-commerce, and student refund processes without meeting the needs of parents, students or the campus. The institution decided to issue an RFP, and after receiving multiple responses, the project team invited three of the most promising vendors to present to university staff from different departments.
“After the demos, we sent out questionnaires to our campus representatives, and TouchNet was the overwhelming favorite,” says Tease Gould, Enterprise Application Specialist at Monmouth University, a private institution in West Long Branch, New Jersey. “We didn’t realize it at the time, but TouchNet’s partnership with Ellucian ended up being an even bigger win for us.”
‘Real-time integration with Ellucian was our biggest success’
Previously, payment plan batch files were sent to Monmouth University once a month, which prevented students from seeing their payments in real time. “We had to create a custom process in Ellucian Colleague that alerted students when the monthly files arrived, then performed a reversal to display the actual payment,” says Gould.
The fact that TouchNet integrates with Colleague simplifies this process. “We can provide real-time integration, and every payment actually hits both the student and GL accounts immediately,” says Gould. “TouchNet makes it easier to see and resolve GL posting exceptions and errors.”
“Ellucian aligned with TouchNet because their company stands out as a leader in the e-commerce space with the most comprehensive solution to unify payments on campus,” says Loretta Clayton, Product Manager at Ellucian. “Eliminating the need for multiple providers while ensuring industry regulatory and PCI compliance, TouchNet has solutions to meet all of your campus payment needs.”
“The real value is TouchNet and Ellucian come together and work on all sides whenever we have an issue to quickly resolve problems in a timely manner,” adds Gould. “We cannot be happier with the partnership we have with TouchNet and Ellucian.”
One-stop shop frees up IT and provides seamless experience for students
Because of the long term, strategic alliance with Ellucian, TouchNet can serve as a one-stop shop, allowing the IT department to focus on other pressing issues rather than having to provide continuous support to maintain or troubleshoot a myriad of integrations with numerous vendors. “We used to constantly receive calls at the business office from families and students asking ‘Where can I access my payment plan?’ or ‘Where do I pay my bill?’ But not anymore,” says Gould.
Additionally, students no longer have to worry about remembering numerous logins or URLs. The university’s student bill and payment center can be accessed seamlessly with single sign-on. “Students simply click a button and are taken to their student account and can see all of their information in one spot, including recent activity, financial aid and, if they’re on a payment plan, their scheduled payment,” says Gould. “If they’re not enrolled in a payment plan, they can sign up from their student account.”
Introducing efficiencies in billing and payment options
Campus staff view student balances and remit monthly installments within one centralized location. First, they use Estimated Balance Plans that are based on the amount that students plan to spend at the time of enrollment. Once the bill is assessed, they roll over to Term Balance Plans, which includes every charge and credit from Colleague that make up a student balance when calculating installments. The system automatically adjusts the payment plan balance when the student account changes within Colleague.
The university is able to tailor the payment plans offered and display those available to specific students or groups. They can also drill down further to include or exclude students by enrollment eligibility, academic program, and student level and type.
Staying in compliance with federal requirements
For student refunds, Monmouth normally uses a custom process that the university created before partnering with TouchNet, which the e-commerce company’s platform fully supports. Since implementing eRefunds PLUS with TouchNet, Monmouth has leveraged the reporting functionality to isolate the unclaimed property as well as get detailed information on refunds, which our Controller’s Office has found invaluable.
“This works extremely well,” says Gould. “Last year, we were able to use eRefunds to distribute the Federal CARES Act funding. Our students benefited and quickly received funds. With the help of TouchNet reports and the dedication of our business office staff, we were able to reach out to our students and give them what they needed.”