By Fred Emery, vice president and general manger, Heartland Payment Systems Campus Solutions
With the current economic climate triggering budget cuts and heightened cost awareness across the country, many campuses are looking to reduce costs without diminishing the quality of services provided.
In 2010, we’ll see more campuses striving to increase efficiencies throughout their institutions in an effort to reduce administrative burdens in various departments and ultimately minimize costs. Process automation will play a critical role in the initiative to lighten the workload on-campus, while continuing to enhance student services.
Financial management procedures will be analyzed more closely to reveal opportunities where productivity can be increased by eliminating some–if not many–manual processes. This effort will lead to the introduction of more self-serve, Web-based services to automate the financial transactions associated with many student services. For example, Heartland’s OneCard Box Office automates ticket sales for events, manages seating inventory and more ― reducing operating expenses associated with manual ticketing. Along with Web-based automation, we’ll see an increased desire for electronic funds management campus wide.
Electronic financial aid disbursement will be one of the most prominent and effective products to streamline financial operations in 2010. This shift will lead to more integration with campus card systems, as opposed to stand-alone financial aid programs.
As campuses seek to reduce costs associated with paper checks, we may even see more demand for campus payroll services that electronically issue work-study funds, salaries and wages to campus cards. This will spark administrator interest in implementing a system using a single account–for financial aid and payroll disbursements as well as on-campus expenditures such as printing and laundry–that upholds government regulations for global acceptance of financial aid funds. The need for more financial integration with card systems will continue to grow as colleges and universities enhance their on-campus services and more off-campus programs emerge.
While operating within the parameters of tightened budgets, campuses will continue to turn to off-campus programs as a means to generate revenue. Over the past year, Heartland Payment Systems’ Give Something Back Network saw a 15% increase in off-campus spending–generating additional revenue for campuses–as well as a 24% increase in the amount of discretionary funds deposited to students’ accounts.
The Give Something Back Network–Heartland’s off-campus merchant program–provides colleges and universities with automatic donations of a percentage of the purchase price of every off-campus transaction. The increased popularity of the campus card as a preferred payment method for students will compel campuses to offer more cash-free services on campus.
Print management will be a primary candidate for cashless and coinless payment alternatives in 2010. We’ll see more pay-for-print services, to not only eliminate the need for cash and coins, but also reduce maintenance costs and paper waste as users only pay for what they need. Pay for print has been postponed on a number of campuses as print services are offered for free–but the desire to save funds coupled with enhanced green initiatives should lead many campuses to pay-for-print services as part of their campus card programs.
Campuses will continue to operate with strained budgets, causing card offices and campus card programs to play larger roles in reducing operating expenses and generating revenue in 2010. This will cause them to seek ways that their vendors can assist them with reducing expenses through reasonable system and maintenance costs, program management assistance and streamlined systems that help avoid timely database management.
About the AVISIAN Publishing Expert Panel
At the close of each year, AVISIAN Publishing’s editorial team selects a group of key leaders from various sectors of the ID technology market to serve as Expert Panelists. Each individual is asked to share their unique insight into what lies ahead. During the month of December, these panelist’s predictions are published daily at the appropriate title within the AVISIAN suite of ID technology publications: SecureIDNews.com, ContactlessNews.com,CR80News.com, RFIDNews.org, FIPS201.com, NFCNews.com, ThirdFactor.com, and DigitalIDNews.com.