Why Efficient Refunds Matter for Higher Education

Author: Mollie Nolan

In Brief:

  • An efficient and effective refund disbursement solution can enable your institution to reduce administrative burdens and relieve student financial stress.

  • Maricopa Community College District found a solution that solved their refund disbursement challenges.

Blog Post

Imagine you’re a student starting a new semester with excitement, only to find your finances in disarray because of a delayed refund. For many students, this is a harsh reality. An inefficient refund disbursement process is more than a mere inconvenience—it’s a burden that can jeopardize a student’s academic journey and financial well-being.

When refunds are delayed, the repercussions ripple through both the institution and its students. For administrators, it means worrying about following Title IV regulations, navigating increased call volume, and dealing with frustrated students. For students, it can mean the difference between affording textbooks, paying rent, or buying groceries. In some cases, students might be forced to take out additional loans, compounding their financial stress and impacting their future.

Efficient refund processing is crucial for enhancing the student experience and supporting an institution’s effective resource allocation and long-term success.

The Impact of Effective Refund Software

Implementing effective software to process refund disbursements can enable your institution to solve these challenges that administrators and students face. When you partner with Nelnet Campus Commerce to manage your refunds you can access these key features.

  • Automation streamlines the refund process, reduces manual data entry, and minimizes errors.
  • Quick refund processing time and fair disbursement methods help refunds meet Title IV regulatory requirements.
  • Flexible disbursement options allow students the choice to receive their refund via ACH direct deposit, paper checks, or reloadable debit cards.
  • Detailed reporting and real-time tracking of refund statuses make managing and monitoring disbursements efficient.
  • Through a convenient self-service portal, it is easy for students to select their preferred refund method and view their refund status at any time.

Benefits for Institutions

Get Peace of Mind

Nelnet Refunds make it easier to meet requirements, giving your business office less to worry about. To assess the effectiveness of your current refund disbursement solution, use this simple three-step compliance test:

  1. Choice: Does your refunds solution offer free and clear choices for students to select how their refund is disbursed?
  2. Fees: What are the annual, monthly, or overdraft fees? Are student fees the backbone of your current model?
  3. Audit: Would your institution welcome an investigation into its refunds process and business relationships by consumer protection groups?

Nelnet Refunds also offer robust reporting features that will give you peace of mind. They make it easy for your administrators to track the status of refunds, monitor ACH enrollment, and streamline reconciliation efforts.

Reduce Administrative Burdens

Responsive customer service is essential to an effective refunds solution. That’s why when you partner with Nelnet Campus Commerce, you’ll work with a team of customer support representatives who understand your needs. They’ll help you master the system, keep you up to date on any changes, and assist quickly when questions or issues arise. Their top priority is saving you time and creating efficiencies for your institution.

Plus, our United States-based call center and convenient in-app chat (available from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.) will reduce the need for your administrators to respond to student questions.

Wade Grauerholz, Director, Student Accounts Receivable for Des Moines Area Community College said, “We now spend far less time issuing refunds. We used to have a staff member dedicated specifically to helping students set up their refund preference. The Nelnet refund process has removed that need and that member of our team is now able to take on different roles and projects as a result.”

Benefits for Students

Provide More Flexibility

Nelnet Refunds will allow you to give students flexible disbursement options, so they can receive their refund in a way that works best for them.

  • ACH Direct Deposit: This method is simple to enroll in and the fastest way to receive a refund. Students choosing this method simply provide their bank account information and we deposit their refund directly into that account.
  • Paper Check: We take care of the entire paper check process, from fulfillment to expiration, including a complete check register. This helps to ensure your students know the status of their refund and get their paper checks quickly and efficiently.
  • Reloadable Debit Card: We offer students the choice to have their refund loaded onto a reloadable debit card.

Decrease Financial Stress

Many students are on a tight budget and rely on their refund to afford living expenses and other necessities throughout the semester. Getting their refund to them faster helps to reduce financial stress, ensuring they can stay focused on their education.

Nelnet allows students multiple options to track the status of their refund, so they can have peace of mind that it’s on the way and plan their finances accordingly. Whether a student chooses to receive their refund via ACH direct deposit, paper check, or reloadable debit card, they can easily check the status through an online portal, convenient mobile alerts, or by calling our call center.

Grauerholz said, “Students appreciate the quick and easy ability to set up and update their refund preference. We receive less feedback from our students because the process is so simple.”

How Maricopa Community College Simplified Refunds

Thanks to Nelnet Refunds, Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) streamlined its refunds process across its 10 regionally accredited colleges and 31 satellite locations.

Their Challenge

With such a large student population, MCCCD was met with a few challenges when it came to processing refunds. Initially, they were utilizing multiple third-party vendors for their refunds. This required a heavy administrative load. It also impacted students negatively by delaying fund disbursement, creating confusion about options, and keeping them in the dark about their refund status. 

 MCCCD wanted a quick and user-friendly solution with robust reporting and accessible customer support. 

The Solution

They were able to find a solution that met their needs with Nelnet Refunds. Since implementing Nelnet Refunds, MCCCD has increased productivity and cost savings and disbursed refunds to students faster. Students now have more clear options and tracking refund status is easy. 

Florence Castro, Business Systems Analyst at MCCCD said, “It has reduced the cost to maintain the system customizations and the time and effort for campus staff and district staff to troubleshoot issues and monitor the daily system and batch processes.” 

Read the full story about how MCCCD turned a time-consuming, ineffective process into one that improves the student and administrator experience. 

With Nelnet Refunds, your institution can reduce administrative burdens, relieve student financial stress, and give students more flexible options. Ready to take the next step? Talk to our team of experts today.

Author: Mollie Nolan

View all posts by Mollie Nolan