If you’ve been offering classes for any length of time, you may have considered whether it’s time to offer your students payment plans. We’ve considered this too, and our answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
Over the years, we’ve seen classes ranging from very inexpensive —$5 to $50— to substantial —hundreds, or even thousands of dollars. These “big ticket” courses are wide-ranging: professional credentials, certifications, camps, trips, and longer-term or specialized personal enrichment opportunities. However, these “big ticket” classes can also be financially challenging to students, even if they may be more valuable.
More expensive classes don’t have to decrease your enrollments! You can still fill your classes at the rate you’ve set by offering payment plans to your students.
Why Offer Payment Plans?
A better question is, “why not offer payment plans?” Payment plans are helpful to both your educational program and your customers. Your students don’t want to miss out on classes –whether they’re to help support a career or for personal pleasure. Payment plans allow your students to take more classes, and offering them shows respect for your students’ financial situations.
For example, a perfect candidate for your class may not have the funds available right away to take the class, even if it will make an impact in their life.
Consider the following scenarios:
- The student chooses to defer taking the class and saves up money to take it when (or if) it’s offered again. This is risky because they may forget the class or choose something else to spend their savings on.
- The student takes the class, even if it’s not affordable. This contributes to their financial stress and may negatively affect their outcomes, which could color their experience with your organization.
- The student chooses to dismiss the idea of the class entirely. They may (or may not) revisit it in the future.
- The student takes their business to another organization which offers more financial flexibility.
The result is that students who want to take your course can’t, don’t, or won’t, and your organization may lose revenue by hosting classes that aren’t full or could have more students.
Payment Plans Help!
The good news is, you can offer students options when it comes to paying for big-ticket courses. There are many reasons to support payment plans for your programs.
Your organization can offer higher-priced classes with less risk to both your educational program and your students, allowing your program to grow.
Let’s face it: it’s been a challenging year for educational organizations. Your costs may have increased, and you recognize that your organization needs to charge more. You may also recognize that your students need additional time to pay for classes as a result.
Payment plans enable your students to choose the right time to take your classes based on their needs at the time, not on their ability to immediately pay.
You can allow your students to take classes when they need to, rather than have them wait to save up for it. From enrichment classes to career growth, these classes will improve your students’ quality of life, and we all need the chance for that!
Students view organizations offering payment plans as more understanding of their needs.
Offering a payment plan acknowledges that you understand the kinds of financial pressures your learners may have and that you’re sensitive to them. That’s good business, whether or not your students take advantage of the payment plan option!
Your class deposits can help you see if the level of interest is worth continued investment in the class.
Payment plans and class deposits help you see quickly if you will be able to run the class successfully. When someone’s made a deposit, they’re showing a commitment to follow through on it, and you’ll be able to make a sound business decision about offering a class.
It may attract students who couldn’t have afforded a lump sum payment upfront.
You may find that you’ll have more students interested in your classes by offering payment plans than when payment was required in a lump sum. This is not only good for your students, but for your organization too!
Offering Payment Plans to Your Students
There are many ways to offer payment plans. Ideally, your registration system has built-in payment processing. If it doesn’t you can use a third-party processor to help manage multi-part payments, including Partial.ly and even PayPal, which has started offering an installment plan for its customers.
When choosing a way to offer payment plans, there are several considerations:
- The ease of implementation and scale for your organization. (It may be easy if payment plans are built into existing software or tools, but more challenging if you need to find another service.)
- The level of management needed (for example, automated payments are very easy, whereas paper, spreadsheet, and other manual methods to track payments can take an enormous amount of time!)
- What cost (if any) would there be to your organization to offer financing and payment plans.
(And, if you’re already a CourseStorm customer, payment plans are built-in and are easy to use. We manage all the technical details for you, so you’re assured consistent, automatic payments through CourseStorm’s payment processing and direct deposit services. You can learn more about how to set up payment plans on our help site.)
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, only you can determine what your students consider “big ticket” items that would benefit from a payment plan. And similarly, you’ll know best whether payment plans will meet the needs of your students and your organization.
We hope that if payment plans feel right for your organization, you’ll be able to confidently offer payment plans that help your program and students grow together!
You can learn even more about ways to use CourseStorm’s payment plans in our Customer Success recorded webinar on Alternative Payment Methods.