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Universities Overwhelmed with International Credit Card Tuition Payments

This year, the United States experienced a record number of international students enrolled at colleges and universities. Many international students pay tuition with credit cards, putting all higher ed institutions about $285 million in the hole collectively each year just to process oversees payments. In addition, credit card payments put a heavy burden on university staff, who devote about 11.5 hours each week to matching, processing and reconciling payments from international students — adding up to a whopping 43 business days out of 150 available in a typical academic year. 

Those figures come from a new survey of more than 100 finance and admissions teams at higher education institutions across the United States conducted by Western Union, a financial services and communications company.

Nearly half (or 44 percent) of those surveyed said “charges incurred from payments is the biggest challenge their institution faces when processing international tuition fees,” according to information from Western Union. More than a third (or 35 percent) answered that “time spent and human resources required to process overseas payments was their biggest challenge when receiving international tuition fees."

More than one million international students studied in the U.S. for the 2015-2016 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education. The estimated $285 million spent each year processing and reconciling oversees payments across all U.S. universities is based on a 1.14 percent average transaction fee on credit card payments and $25,000 and $33,500 average annual tuition fees (for public and private universities respectively), Western Union noted. As for time spent each year, the 43 days calculation is based on an eight-hour day in a typical 30-week school year.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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