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2017 NACUBO Student Financial Services Benchmarking Report Released

September 11, 2017

The 2017 Student Financial Services Benchmarking Report is now available online. This report is based on survey responses from 397 U.S. colleges and universities and provides information on student financial services (SFS) operations during FY16 (July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, for most schools).

The data show that student payments and institutions’ credit balance refunds continue to move away from manual processing and toward electronic options. More than 48 percent of student payments were made via the internet in FY16, with less than 35 percent of student payments received manually. When considering student payment methods, student use of paper checks has declined by 9 percentage points, from 36 percent in FY12 to 27 percent in FY16. At the same time, student use of web checks or e-checks has increased from 25 percent in FY12 to 36 percent in FY16. 

When institutions must reimburse students because payments exceed institutional charges, they are also turning toward electronic methods. Between FY12 and FY16, institutional use of electronic direct deposits for credit balance refunds increased from 36 percent of 51 percent.  The move toward electronic methods may save institutional funds and staff resources.

The report also demonstrates that the percentage of students with unpaid balances has remained consistent, with the proportion of unpaid balances to total enrolled students at about 31 percent at the end of FY16. Despite nearly a third of students having unpaid balances on their accounts, only about 3 percent of the total dollar amount invoiced in FY16 was outstanding at the end of the fiscal year. In addition, the share of students whose accounts are placed into collections has also remained consistent over the last five years, at about 5 percent.

SFS offices had an average of 11 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees in FY16, showing a slight increase over the last five years. However, the number of FTE students per FTE SFS staff member has also increased over the same period, from 778 FTE students per FTE SFS staff in FY12 to 783 in FY16.  In addition, over the last five years, the SFS operating budget per FTE student has decreased, on average and when adjusted for inflation, from $164 per FTE student in FY12 to $131 in FY16.

The 2017 Student Financial Services Benchmarking Report is available for purchase on the NACUBO website. Staff at participating institutions can access a complimentary copy of the report through NACUBO’s Online Research portal.


Lindsay Wayt
Assistant Director, Research and Policy Analysis