Why Students Love It When You Offer Payment Plans for Classes
These days it seems like pretty much everyone is offering payment plans. Whether you need a new water heater for your home or just want a trendy new sweater, payment plans help make purchases possible. If your organization offers big-ticket courses that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, it might be time to consider offering payment plans to students.
Payment plans make it easier for students to afford professional credentials, certifications, camps, trips, and long-term enrichment programs. They can register now, rather than waiting to save up the full purchase price. And modern technology means that setting up payment plans can be easy for organizations too!
Why Offer Payment Plans to Customers?
You may not think of your learners as “customers” but during the registration process, that’s exactly what they are. They’re shopping for a good or service, in this case an educational experience or credential. Your job is to make it easy for them to make the purchase that fits their needs.
Your students don’t want to miss out on classes just because they don’t have the full purchase price in their pocket right now. Payment plans allow your students to take the classes they need when they need them.
Offering payment plans for higher priced classes allows students to register when they want to, rather than when they have the full fee in hand. And it shows you care about your students.
The result is that students choose the right time to take your classes based on their needs, not their bank balance. Classes offer learners an opportunity to enrich their life and even advance their careers. Those are opportunities that should be available to as many people as possible.
Yet, many people have experienced new financial stresses under the uncertainty of the last few years. Costs are increasing everywhere and budgets are tighter. Your students and your organization both feel that pinch. You may even need to raise prices to meet new circumstances. Offering payment plans can help smooth this transition.
Setting up installment plans shows you care for students. You understand that everyone has different financial circumstances, and you want to be inclusive. It acknowledges the financial pressures some learners face, and shows that your organization will treat learners with respect. That makes your organization look good, even to students who don’t need a payment plan right now.
The Benefits of Offering Payment Plans
Offering payment plans can seem like a new administrative burden. But the right technology makes it easy. Besides, this flexibility brings some real benefits to your organization.
- Offer higher-priced classes with less risk. Often, big-ticket classes are more costly to produce. You may need to retain instructors with specialized skills, pay to maintain licenses and accreditation, get special insurance, or provide facilities and equipment over the long term. Setting all this up is a financial risk for your organization, but payment plans keep money flowing month after month.
- Gauge level of interest. It’s sometimes hard to tell why registrations are lower than expected for a specific class. Are students just not interested, or is the price scaring them away? Payment plans help remove some of the price burden so you can more easily gauge interest.
- Register more students. Spacing out payments makes classes more affordable since students don’t have to come up with a lump sum. That means you may get more registrations and be able to reduce class cancellations.
How to Avoid Potential Drawbacks of Installment Plans
The obvious danger with payment plans is that a student will fail to pay the whole amount. One way to avoid this problem is by setting up the plan so that the full amount is due before the class starts. Learners can hold their seat with a deposit, but must pay in full before the start date. For longer-term classes, you can spread the payments out a little more, but still require full payment before the end of the class.
CourseStorm does not charge any additional fees for payment plans, to students or programs.
Depending on your payment processor, you can sometimes incur additional costs for taking payments in installments. Make sure you ask about any payment fees or administrative charges before offering payment plans to students. CourseStorm does not charge any additional fees for payment plans. There is no cost difference to students between courses paid in full in advance or on payment plans.
Setting up and administering payment plans can be labor intensive, unless you have the right tools in place. Many organizations never take the plunge because they think set-up will be difficult and they dread the administrative complication. Fortunately, unless you’re still using manual spreadsheets and mailed checks to handle registrations, those problems should be a thing of the past.
How to Offer Payment Plans and Never Miss a Payment
Ideally, your registration system has built-in payment processing. The best course registration and payment tools also have payment plans built in, so students automatically get charged when a payment is due.
At CourseStorm, payment plans are built-in and easy to use. We manage all the technical details for you so you get consistent automatic payments. For any class that costs more than $100, you’ll see a handy button that lets you configure payment plans for that class. You can have different plans for different classes or choose not to offer the option at all.
When students register, they can opt to pay the full amount upfront, or sign up for automatic charges. The system will auto-schedule payments based on the time left between registration and the date the registration must be fully paid off.
You can even set up custom payment schedules if you have a student in special circumstances. This kind of flexibility means you can work with students to meet their unique needs and help overcome hardships that might otherwise prevent them from registering.
You Know Your Students Best
Payment plans are increasingly common for educational programs, and many customers have come to expect them as an option for higher-priced opportunities.
Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you offer payment plans. Whatever you decide, we’ve made it easy by integrating them directly into CourseStorm’s class registration and payment software. For more on how CourseStorm works, or to experience our surprisingly simple registration software for yourself, start your free trial today.
Brian is a scientist-turned-education technology executive. He has founded and led technology companies for more than 20 years and uses his analytical mind and experimental approach to spur growth in small and medium businesses and start-ups. He is passionate about using technology to enhance access to lifelong learning.