With a commitment to making its experiences available to all who strive for excellence, Delbarton School, a private Benedictine Catholic school in Morristown, NJ, has been warmly welcoming young men and their families since 1939.
As the school continues to make its education more accessible to all, managing the logistics of its billing and tuition procedures is a crucial component of the school’s business office and financial operations.
As the “one-person who handles billing,” among others in the business office, Roberta Roser oversees the billing accounts for 566 families, using Finalsite Enrollment's Tuition and Billing software to streamline financial management at Delbarton to round out the enrollment journey for families.
At a Glance
Delbarton School is an independent Catholic college-preparatory school in Morristown, New Jersey for young men in 7 - 12th grades, directed by the Benedictine monks of St. Mary's Abbey.
User-Friendly Interface for Families
“We've been using Finalsite for four years, and each year it gets better,” shared Roser.
Families often find financial processes complicated, yet the Tuition and Billing module simplifies payments with a straightforward interface. From a family’s initial inquiry to their final payment, one system coordinates the entire enrollment journey.
“Admissions, enrollment, and billing — it’s all in one system,” Roser said. “Our headmaster strongly endorses that unity because that means our parents only use one system.”
And since one of the earliest introductions Delbarton families have to the school is through the Admissions software offered through Finalsite Enrollment, when submitting enrollment deposits, signing an enrollment contract, and then paying tuition, families can log into one familiar system to complete their payments.
“And our parents are happy with that,” Roser added. “They know how to use it from their admissions experience, so they know how to go in, and it doesn't change. If other sons are applying and enrolling, parents know how to use it, which puts them at ease.” The simplicity of having one login for multiple students in one family eliminates the need for two or more separate accounts.
“We wanted one system that could do everything for the parents. It’s beautiful when you have the advanced deposits and the enrollment contracts showing up on the same statement ... That's easy, and that’s what we want to offer our parents.”
ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE ASSOCIATE, STUDENT BILLING
This simplicity allows families to set up automatic payments quickly, and for Delbarton’s business office, it means less time spent on paperwork and more time supporting the school’s operations.
“It’s great on my end, too," explained Roser. "It’s easy and puts everybody on a system where they're paying online versus sending in checks. Our system is the same, so when I change an address in billing, for example, it goes across the entire system and vice versa. That's extremely helpful because the contact information is updated for everyone and always current.”
Keeping the financial and contract information secure is important. Only the business office has access to that information via Finalsite, and those individuals accessing the Admissions and Enrollment modules do not have access to the Tuition and Billing module.
Invoices are emailed monthly to the financially responsible parent, guardian, or grandparent. An initial email goes out ten days before the invoice is sent, indicating to the responsible party that they have an upcoming payment due to Delbarton.
With the cost of postage continually rising, online invoicing saves over $5,000 annually on postage alone, and the ability for parents to receive a pre-bill, then an actual online invoice, prepares the parents for upcoming charges. The school encourages all parents to sign up for auto-pay, and most of them have done this, which provides the business office with cash flow analysis.
“The ability to bill or charge multiple student accounts through a drop-down in the Billing module saves time and days,” Roser said. “For example, what used to take 4-5 days to bill out fees for 962 Advanced Placement Exams has been streamlined to 2-3 days, including the upload to our current financial system.”
An important communication feature is the system’s ability to create specific email templates that can be sent out regarding billing and/or related billing issues to the entire student (parent) base or filtered by grade or type of activity. The ability to schedule these emails contributes to getting the message sent in a timely manner.
Additionally, parents can download a copy of their current enrollment contract to print, a tax statement, and monthly statements should they need to all without contacting the business office, which needed to be done in the past. Delbarton also has this capability; however, with the parents being able to do so, it saves time and money for all parties involved.
Flexible and Customizable Payment Plans for Both Parties
Managing payment terms can be complex, but for schools like Delbarton, the Tuition and Billing module allows for control over due dates, grace periods, and each school’s criteria for overdue payments. That flexibility is crucial for effective cash flow management and allows schools to plan their finances more accurately.
“I like the feature that lets me extend the payments,” Roser explained. “Instead of saying to the parent, ‘Just pay what you can now,’ I can extend their payment schedule until April or May, to reduce the monthly payment yet ensuring that all payments are received before the end of the school year.”
The flexibility in plans allows schools to offer various payment options, which families can choose based on their financial situations, and helps manage their budgets. Many families share financial responsibilities, and the module's automated payment-splitting feature allows up to four payers per account.
“Divorced families had been a challenge because of the split, but now it’s improved,” Roser said. “Parents appreciate the flexibility. There is never an issue with families that are ‘blended,’ as they have the option to open their student’s account in either parent’s name.”
This functionality makes it easier for families to manage shared financial responsibilities without the complications of manual splitting.
Revenue Control and Management of Incidental Fees
Schools often deal with late fees or incidental charges for extracurricular activities, athletics, or transportation. While Delbarton handles almost all student expenses through the cost of tuition, the Tuition and Billing module allows business offices to set their late fee policies.
“We wanted one system that could do everything for the parents,” Roser added. “It’s beautiful when you have the advanced deposits and the enrollment contracts showing up on the same statement. Families can enroll, and pay the advance deposit payment on the same credit card or bank information they have on file. They don't have to go in and set up another bank account or credit card. Whatever payment method they have in their saved profile is what will pass through for their tuition billing. That's easy, and that’s what we want to offer our parents.”
The dashboard provides both parties with a comprehensive payment overview and a single view of all payments and charges throughout a student's time at the school.
Data Transfer and Support
Integrating with other financial tools and systems is essential for business offices, and the module's ability to easily transfer data into tools like BlackBaud reduces administrative work and enhances data accuracy for Delbarton.
If an issue does arise, the Finalsite Support Team is standing by with answers. “To me, that's the most important feature,” Roser said. “When I need something, or I have a parent who needs assistance, it’s great to be able to provide families with an answer the same day.”
“Support is excellent, and for a minor question specific to billing, it gives me a lot of relief that I don't have to wait to help write a detailed support case. I know that a lot of training is offered, but when you can reach out and talk to a live person, it really helps.”
New system enhancements are always being made as the Finalsite team listens to its users’ concerns to make the system easier to use and integrate into their internal financial systems.
As another enrollment season approaches, the Delbarton Business and Admission offices are preparing to welcome another incoming class to campus. For a school that asks its community to lead through service, Delbarton is making the most of its system to provide a streamlined experience for its families.
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