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Supporting online education with flexible payment options

April 22, 2020

In recent times, we have seen the online education market rapidly expand, whether that be through online educators increasing their range of courses, or education facilities moving to an online learning model. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly played a significant role in workplaces closing their doors, and people have turned to education to upskill themselves as they stay indoors. Under these circumstances, the opportunity to be productive and upskill is being pursued by many, or if already studying, interest has spiked in continuing education remotely. 

If you’re one of the many education businesses operating during this time, or you’re just finalising your online learning courses, you’ll need to consider how students are prepared to pay for your products and services amid such uncertainty. 

You could choose to collect fees upfront, but this may limit the ability for some people to pay, especially if they are feeling anxious about their financial situation or are currently facing financial hardship. Payment plans to ‘pay off’ courses and recurring debits to ‘pay as you study’ are great solutions to collect course fees in smaller amounts over a period of time, making it more manageable for students. 

So, how can offering flexible payment options help your business to thrive online? 

Make it easier for students to manage payments 

Education is a significant investment and many students may find it difficult to manage their expenses if they are required to pay upfront. Quite often you will find that students will postpone other expenses or limit themselves to a tight budget to make ends meet when paying course fees. By splitting large course fees into smaller, regular payments you are making it much easier for students to pay their fees and manage their own cash flow. For short courses, it’s still acceptable and sometimes even expected to be able to pay it off in one go, so offering both options to students can be very beneficial. 

The same applies for online learning, especially in the current economy. With a large number of jobs affected as a result of the pandemic, many people are looking to upskill to prepare for gainful employment in the future. Smaller, regular payments in these situations are more manageable, especially if they are relying on financial assistance and don’t have the money available to pay upfront. 

Increase new enrolments and the uptake of courses 

With the introduction of more flexible payment options comes the added benefit of increased accessibility for new enrolments. Many potential students may have been interested in completing a course you offer but found themselves limited by their ability to finance it. 

Offering payment plans or regular ongoing debits for continued learning will allow you to cater for these students, encouraging the uptake of new enrolments. Similarly, by offering flexible payment options using a variety of payment methods, you can further improve accessibility for students. Providing payment options such as bank direct debit, debit card and credit card will ensure that you are catering to as many students as possible. With the right payment provider, you may also be able to accept international card payments, thereby increasing your ability to serve overseas enrolments. 

Keep track of payments through your SMS 

There are many ways that you can manage and track your incoming payments. From simple spreadsheets and SMS tracking functionalities, to more advanced accounting software, the option you choose depends on the needs of your business.  

Make sure your student management system is integrated with a payments solution to allow you to easily track and manage course fees all in the one place. Having all your payments and student management tools in the one place will help to save you time and greatly reduce the amount of manual work required to reconcile student accounts and update their records. A payment solutions provider, such as Ezypay, will help you take control of recurring billing and make sure you can manage and track all your payments. To get an idea of the ways you could be integrating your SMS with a payments solution, check out our integration guide.

For the foreseeable future, online learning is the way forward to provide accessible education and opportunities to upskill. Payment plans and recurring debit options can greatly support your online learning platform by making tuition affordable and easy to pay for - providing more accessibility to your classes and simplifying your internal processes when it comes to tracking and managing incoming payments.

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