How to Create a Seamless Payment Process for the Higher Education Resident Experience

Explore the transformative impact of integrating an industry-leading payment provider with your housing portal to enhance efficiency & ensure compliance.

In the intricate web of university operations and the student experience, every process matters, especially if payments are involved. Imagine a scenario where a student must navigate through one platform to submit a housing application and another to make a deposit. It's not just cumbersome; it's a potential deterrent. This is where the integration of payment providers into your housing portal becomes imperative.

Let's dive into the dynamics of integrating payments with a housing solution, like StarRez, and the transformative impact it has on university operations.

Why Don’t All Institutions Integrate Payments into their Housing Portal?

At the outset, let’s address the barriers hindering institutions from fully embracing integrated payments. A significant hurdle faced by some institutions is the preference to allow payments to be processed from different campus affiliates (or offices), such as admissions or the financial office. This fragmentation not only complicates the payment journey for students but also creates administrative challenges for housing and residence life teams.

When students are required to make payments within one software platform and complete housing processes elsewhere, it causes confusion and inefficiency. Simplifying this process with a smooth integration eliminates such barriers, ensuring a seamless online experience from start to finish.

What are the Benefits of a Housing Software Payment Integration?

The allure of a housing solution, like StarRez, lies in its ability to consolidate all aspects of the application process, including payments, within a single platform. For applicants, this means a smooth journey from the moment they initiate their housing application, to submitting payments, and finalizing the process without navigating away from the portal.

An integration also ensures real-time processing, eliminating delays commonly associated with external payment systems. By removing obstacles that might impede application completion, institutions can enhance efficiency and reduce the risk of losing prospective residents along the way.

Payment Integration Best Practices

  • Allow students to pay with a check, which typically requires a smaller transaction fee, resulting in higher student satisfaction.
  • Pass along credit card fees to control your costs.
  • Collect deposits (or increase deposits) for housing applications to better control occupancy.
  • Make deposits non-refundable to get a more accurate idea of those who are committed rather than those who may have held a space while making their decision.

Personal Anecdotes from a StarRez Project Manager and University Housing Administrator

Reflecting on past experiences, when I was a StarRez project manager, I worked with a number of customers to bring their payments into StarRez, and this really helped them to eliminate some roadblocks that their applicants were facing. By eliminating delays, those institutions saw improved efficiency in processing applications and a reduction of incomplete housing applications. Integrating payments into StarRez not only benefited their applicants but also alleviated administrative burdens, fostering a more cohesive and user-friendly environment.

Reflecting even further back, when I was working in a university housing office, I oversaw our application process and the assignments for about 4,000 people. One challenge we consistently ran into was that our deposits were made within our student information system but required review from the financial office before being sent over to our housing system.

At the end of our application cycle, when many students made their final decisions on which university to attend, we would get a sudden influx of deposits. The priority deadline for housing fell right around this time as well. Students would make payments, but until those payments flowed through the financial office into our housing system, they couldn’t access the housing application. This caused stress and confusion for the students and staff.

Integrating payments into the housing application process would have yielded significant time savings and eliminated unnecessary student and family concerns. We all know that less anxious students lead to better interactions and a more positive housing experience overall. Plus, removing the need for manual intervention and simplifying the payment journey would allow administrators to focus on more value-added tasks, ultimately enhancing the efficiency of operations at a critical time of the year.

What to Know about StarRez Payment Integrations

Playing Well with Payment Providers

StarRez integrates with the industry’s leading payment providers. Through a true redirect method with embedded payment functionality, applicants are seamlessly directed to the payment provider's page to input their card details. Once the transaction is completed, they are automatically redirected back to StarRez, maintaining continuity within the application process.

A payment integration not only simplifies the payment journey for applicants but also ensures compliance with data security standards. With a range of payment providers at their disposal, institutions can choose the option that best aligns with their needs and preferences.

We’re proud to integrate with industry-leading payment providers, including:

Payment Flexibility

StarRez caters to a diverse range of payment needs. Whether it's collecting deposits upfront or facilitating rent payments and ancillary charges through the portal throughout the year, institutions have the flexibility to customize their payment processes according to their requirements.  

For example, StarRez can provide a payment integration that focuses on international students who might need foreign exchange rate stability. Some institutions will even provide two options for payment integrations. One that allows international students to pay with their own currency, and another for local students to pay with a credit card or check. This versatility ensures a tailored approach that meets the unique needs of each institution and its residents.

Specifically, Flywire and StarRez recognized the growing demand for smoother cross-border payment solutions amidst rising international student numbers. To address this need, they collaborated to create an integrated system within the StarRez portal, allowing students to pay for accommodation using Flywire's Global Payment Network. This integration supports payments in over 140 currencies, simplifying the process for students and enhancing the efficiency of administrative processes for universities and accommodation providers.

"International students face challenges of language, culture, but also the basics of figuring out how to pay for college. And not just how to get the money to pay, but actually figuring out ways to navigate currency exchange and international restrictions. Online payments with an extensive global payments network like Flywire can simplify the payment process and help make the student experience all that much better."

- Catherine Eklund, VP of Global EDU Partnerships, Flywire

Learn more about this integrated solution by reading Flywire’s Partner spotlight: Simplifying Student Accommodation Payments with StarRez.

Securing Payment Data

In an era where data security is paramount, StarRez's cloud payment service offers peace of mind. With PCI 4.0 compliance and robust security measures, institutions can ensure the highest levels of security for payment transactions. This not only protects sensitive financial information but also instills trust among applicants and stakeholders.

PCI compliance, a data security standard established by major card brands like MasterCard and Visa, imposes technical requirements on entities in the payment ecosystem to combat fraud. For housing teams, adherence to PCI 4.0 (the newest standard) is essential when processing credit card payments, as non-compliance jeopardizes financial stability, exposes organizations to fraud risks, and can lead to severe repercussions such as payment disruptions and reputational damage. Investing in secure platforms is crucial for safeguarding financial operations and reputations in student housing. Curious to learn more? Get the answers to the top 5 FAQs about PCI 4.0 Compliance.

Speak to a StarRez expert to learn more about our payment provider integrations and how you can ensure a seamless and secure transaction experience for your residents.

Myrinda Grantham
Senior Solutions Analyst at StarRez, Inc with 10+ years prior experience working in student affairs and housing.


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