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Friday, June 26, 2020

Advancing tuition affordability

Education can be a pricy proposition, particularly for international students, and especially with the economic turbulence brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. So Flywire, a Boston-based fintech, has enhanced its payments platform to help educational institutions to make tuition payments more manageable for international students.

The company’s new international payment plan options, which builds on its existing receivables solution, has been customized for colleges and universities worldwide that want to offer foreign students flexible tuition payment plans.

“When COVID-19 hit, we heard from many of our higher education clients about the new financial burdens their international students faced, and how this might jeopardize their re-enrollment,” said Sharon Butler, executive vice president for education at Flywire. The company’s new international payment plans “are critical to allowing students to pay on a schedule and in the method that works best for them, so they can resume their studies on time and without further distraction,” she added.

A $49 billion boost to U.S. economy

International students represent significant cultural, academic and financial contributors to the global economy. More than a million students came to U.S. colleges and universities from other countries during the 2018/19 academic year, contributing nearly $41 to the U.S. economy, according to International Education Evaluations and the Association of International Educators.

With education costs on a steep upward trajectory, finding the money to pay tuition in full prior to the start of a school year is tough. But the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation for many foreign students, some of whom have been stuck on campus, unable to go home, because of COVID travel restrictions. As more institutions plan to reopen for the 2020-2021 academic year, foreign students’ re-enrollments are jeopardized by their inability to pay their education costs, Flywire noted in a press release.

Flexible student payments

Now colleges and universities can ease the burden many foreign students are feeling by letting them stretch out tuition payments. It’s not a cookie-cutter approach: the platform provides flexibility to offer payment plans that fit their needs and those of foreign students, Butler explained. “In some cases, the payment plan will end as the semester begins. In others, it may extend into the semester or beyond. The idea is to maintain flexibility for both the student and the school and be able to address unique circumstances,” she said.

For example, the school may offer a plan with payments beginning in June and ending in September for one student, and create that different plan that extends payments through the end of the semester for another student. “The new capability gives the school the option to make those adjustments easily for any student based on their needs,” Butler said.

The payment plan also allows for students to swap out payment methods from month-to-month, based on exchange rates and financial considerations. A student may opt to pay one month via international bank transfers, for example, and the next month using a credit card.

The new Flywire international payment plan program is available to any school anywhere in the world that hosts foreign students, although availability of specific services and capabilities may vary depending on geography and local laws, Butler added. end of article

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