Despite myriad payment challenges, the volume of international students pursuing further education in the US is expected to increase in years to come. With students and their families pursuing a higher education in the U.S., the market is in need of better solutions to ensure the flow of tuition and fees runs more proficiently.

With the demand for U.S. colleges and universities to recruit international students, it’s critical for recruiters to take all opportunities and challenges set forth for overseas families.

Understanding the challenges such as the complications encountered with cross-border tuition payments (in particular) can help benefit the recruitment process in the long run.

Students and their families are often not aware of how complicated the cross-border tuition process can be until they’re in the process.

Regardless of attending a public or private institution, it has a huge financial impact for international families. Studying at private colleges or universities, in particular, comes with a much bigger price tag. Recent data from the CollegeBoard reveals out-of-state tuition and fees at a public four-year university can cost $24,930 on average (annually).

In-state tuition at the same public university is $9,650, a rate international students are ineligible to receive. Furthermore, enrolling at a private institution for a four-year degree (on average) can cost approximately $33,480. For the more than 900 international students who enrolled in University of Central Missouri last fall, they paid double the $6,445 tuition fees of Missouri residents.

As if it was not stressful enough to manage regular schoolwork and a new country, the more than 500,000 international students that come to the U.S. to further their education are often left to navigate payment woes, i.e. additional fees and tricky exchange rates, without any help from their institution.

Cross-border payment and international funds transfer system inefficiencies such as higher costs of sending funds create bigger complications for international students and their families, along with university administrators who have to process the payments. And the friction doesn’t end there. Transferring tuition overseas can mean a variety of numerous players tangled in the cross-border transfer process.

In 2016, more than 350,000 Chinese students were studying in the United States. Many of these students are used to making payments on Alipay or through the WeChat app. That same year, Germany had a little over 10,000 students in the United States, whose preferred method of payment is Sofort, which allows consumers to make payments with a code for a small fee.

Many of the 16,835 students from Mexico were accustomed to a unique payment option offered at Oxxo convenience stores that sends the customer an automated email with purchasing information such as the amount owed, payment instructions and a unique code.

Transferring tuition overseas can mean a variety of numerous players tangled in the cross-border transfer process. If more universities and institutions accepted some of the payment methods mentioned above, the payment process for international students would be a lot more streamlined.

Steve Villegas

Steve Villegas

Steve Villegas is vice president of partner management for PPRO's U.S. headquarters.