Efficiently collecting your school fees and managing your budgets effectively is ultimately what enables your school to operate each day. However, when handling larger sums of money from multiple payees, it can become time consuming to manage invoices, incoming funds, and unpaid bills.  

Similarly, fee payment time can also be a challenging time for parents. They need to be prepared for larger sums and ensure that they’re meeting the school’s payment deadlines. School fees become another addition to the ever-growing household outgoings.  

Over 90% of those with bank accounts in the UK have at least one Direct Debit set up to manage their bills, with a nationwide average Direct Debit failure rate of less than 1%, and it is the most common payment method across a range of financial commitments. 

Despite Direct Debits being one of the most popular options for bill management in other areas of life, like utility bills, credit card payments, and subscription services, the question remains - are fee-paying schools offering this same service to their parents? 

Direct Debits and dedicated fee payment plans need not be as admin intensive as you think. So how could your school benefit from offering an in-house payment plan and Direct Debit option for parents? 

Fee payment flexibility 

As a school, it’s important to meet parents’ expectations in more ways than one. While you need to provide the best learning experience for their children, you also need to make their experience with managing payments as positive as possible, too.  

school fees by direct debit

Most people would agree that bills are one of the more negative parts of our daily lives. No one particularly looks forward to spending our money on household outgoings. That’s a primary reason why utility companies, for example, aim to make this process as simple as possible. Automation also considerably cuts their admin time.  

Chances are, your parents have Direct Debits set up for the vast majority of their monthly outgoings. New parents that are in conversation with your admissions team might even expect your school to offer a payment plan and Direct Debit option for school fees, particularly as individual finances get tighter with the increasing cost of living.  

As part of each parent and student’s journey with your school, it’s important to offer as much flexibility as possible for each individual case. Adding Direct Debits to your payment options portfolio makes the fee collection process simpler for both your parents, and your finance department. The more payment options that you can provide, the easier it becomes to manage your budget and missed invoice payments.  

Improved budget planning and forecasting 

Depending on your current payment option offering, your school budget might be heavily reliant on swift parent payment and chasing arrears. Ultimately, chasing payments becomes a part of your finance department’s day, whether from parents or other businesses.  

Relying on the promptness and organisation of others makes it particularly challenging to manage your budget and forecast for future spending and growth. However, financial forecasting is a key component in any informed decision-making for your school’s growth.  

Empower your finance team and budget forecasting by offering an automated payment solution for school fee collections. In February 2024, the average Direct Debit failure rate in the UK was 0.88%. A less than one percent chance of a missed payment enables your teams to rely on their monthly or termly figures and swift fee payment for their budget planning and financial forecasting. 

Automation for efficiency 

Automation functionality within your EdTech solutions is key to enabling your teams to optimise their time and workload. The same can be said about your fee collection process, and the payment process for parents. 

school fees by direct debit

By implementing an automated Direct Debit process that works in tandem with your Management Information System (MIS/SIS) and your school accounting solution, you can free up time for your finance department. Reduce the burden of unnecessarily manual tasks by offering a regular payment collection schedule, that is flexible enough to also meet your parents’ needs.  

The iSAMS Auto Debits solution (coming soon) works with the Fee Billing module and iFinance to ease the fee collection process. All Direct Debits are handled within one system so that, if payments are missed or are there are any concerns, instructions can be reissued efficiently. A smoother and quicker payment experience benefits both parents and your school. 

Prioritise security 

One of the most common phishing scams used to target schools and their parents is via fee collection email invoices. Criminals clone or copy school branding and invoice emails to create communications that are recognisable to parents. This puts both sensitive data and parent’s funds at risk.  

While it’s important to educate your school community on how to recognise these scams and phishing communication, removing the need for email invoicing could significantly reduce the risk.  

By offering your parents the option to pay by Direct Debit, you could help to minimise the impact of scams like this on your school community. While you may still prefer to provide parents with an invoice for their records, they will be safe in the knowledge that their payment has already been processed according to your agreed schedule.  

school fees by direct debit

To strengthen the improved security potential of direct debits, consider implementing a portal for parents that offers self-service functionality. This way, parents can access their invoices themselves, directly on the portal, removing the need for email communications within the fee payment process.  

iFinance, Fee Billing and iSAMS Auto Debits 

The iSAMS suite of financial systems work seamlessly together to provide an easy and efficient fee payment and collections experience. Whether you’re working with the Fee Billing module or have implemented our full school financial management solution, iFinance, Auto Debits naturally integrates to provide a full-service and automated Direct Debit collection system. 

If you’d like to learn more about iFinance, you can access a demo below. You can also register your interest for iSAMS Auto Debits (coming soon) here, and a member of the team will be in touch.