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Smart Tuition

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1.2 out of 5, based on 45 ratings and
46 reviews & complaints.
Hello my name is Jim Lozano and I am the Director of Parent Experience for Smart Tuition. Smart Tuition serves as a financial connection between non-public K-12 schools and families. We value your feedback as a learning experience and I encourage you to reach out to me if you have any comments or concerns directly at parentadvocate@smarttuition.com. I promise to listen with an open mind and would appreciate the chance to connect with you personally.
Company Profile
Smart Tuition
10 Woodbridge Center, Suite 200
Woodbridge NJ 07095
888-868-8828 (ph)
www.smarttuition.com
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Overcharging. Losing Checks.
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Rating: 1/51

WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY -- I'm not trying to be difficult but I'll was a little upset by a conversation with the people at Smart today. On 8-28-17 I mailed out a check to Smart Tuition. The bill was for books and school fees. I had a credit on my account and only owed $87.25. On 9-11-17 I got a late payment email from Smart. The email indicated my payment was never received and I now owed 127.25. I checked my bank account online. I mailed out other checks on the 8-28-17 that had cleared. The check to Smart had not cleared.

I called Smart and talked to a customer service representative. I did not get her name. I advised her that the check had not cleared and asked her to check and see if there was a mistake. She checked and said there was no mistake, Smart had not received the check. She told me Smart does not advise customers to mail in checks. I asked her to waive the $40 fee. She said she would have to ask for a waiver. I asked if I could pay the bill with a card over the phone. She said I could pay it but my credit card company charged me a fee of 2.85% to use my card.

I advised her that my card did not charge me to use it. I advised her the credit card company charged Smart and they were simply passing the fee along to me. She said this was not the case. I asked for a supervisor. I was transferred to a woman supervisor. The supervisor said her number was **. I advised ** of the issue I was having. I asked her to waive the late fee. ** told me she would have to ask for the late fee to be waived. I told her I wanted to pay with a card over the phone. She told me the credit card company charged me a 2.85% convenience fee. I told ** the credit card charged Smart the fee, not me, and they were just passing the fee along to me.

I told ** that if I use my card at the grocery store, there is no 2.85% added to my bill. ** told me that grocery stores raise their prices to account for the fee and went on to say that gas stations charge more per gallon for credit card purchases to account for the fee. I told ** that Smart already charged me for their services. I paid over the phone, in the end, my $87.25 bill cost me $130.88. I told ** I was making the institution aware of the entire conversation. She told me the institution could waive the late fee. Frankly, I think FACTS does a better job. It seems obvious to me that Smart wants automatic deposits and will do what is necessary to get them.

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Bogus Fees
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Rating: 1/51

KENTUCKY -- My school started using Smart Tuition 2 years ago and at first I hoped that it would be a convenient and cost saving system for our school. When we set up our account, we opted to do the bank draft payments online. Several months into doing the payments, we noticed a discrepancy in the amounts that were being deducted from our account. They were taking an additional 20 to 30 dollars a month out of our account each time we paid our tuition online.

There was no mention of a convenience fee or surcharge in their terms and conditions and they have yet to respond to my email about how they came up with that fee or where it says they have the right to charge such a fee. Anyway, from then on we paid by check.

The next issue came when we were assessed an outstanding late fee of 40.00 on a bill when we had paid the previous balance in full on time because supposedly the school forgot to report something to them. We contacted them and provided a statement and the check that matched the amount on the bill, and they still tried to argue with us. We eventually were able to get the late fee waived, but it took lots of time on the phone and a rather heated discussion to do it.

Most recently, I mailed a check to them for the full balance of my son's monthly tuition 7 days before the due date. They conveniently waited until the day after the check was due to cash it and tried yet again to charge me a 40.00 late fee and then they tried to say I owed an additional past due balance of 17 dollars when I paid the exact amount that was on my bill. The school was able to intercede this time and get the fee waived, but I still expect there to be a problem next month because it's always something.

I was told by our administrators that several parents who pay by check are having the same issue with Smart Tuition conveniently waiting to cash their checks and then trying to assess outrageous late fees. She also suggested that we try the online system, but then I told her about the extra money that was being drafted out of my account.

I contacted the school's accountant and she is not aware of any such fee that they are supposed to be collecting for online payments. She stated she's going to check into that. I have attempted to contact Smart Tuition to ask them to explain this fee to me, but they have not responded. Based on my previous experiences, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if they were illegally or unethically stealing money from people's accounts. My husband has been so frustrated he's actually threatened to remove my son from the school altogether. I really hope our school drops this company like a hot potato.

Company Response 03/13/2017:

I apologize for any frustration you are having with Smart Tuition. We appreciate the fact that this is now your 3rd year with Smart Tuition. In reviewing your account over the years, all of the late fees were previously waived.

We offer many different payment options for parents. Sending payments by mail is one of the options to make a payment however it is one of the slower forms of payment. The best way to make a payment is on our website or by phone using your checking or savings account. There is no fee to make a payment that way. Payments using credit cards have convenience fees. I'm sorry you might not have initially seen that credit cards have convenience fees in May of 2014. I'm showing that you stopped making credit card payments on 5/15/2015. That was the last credit card payment you made with Smart. Going forward we will work with our schools in communicating these fees and improve our website in displaying these types of fees. We are in the process now of working on a new and improved parent website.

Last month, a charge of $17 extended day charge for 1/9-1/13/17 was added onto your Smart account by the school after the invoice was generated. I have advised our account manager to speak with the school and advise them that adding fees after the invoice is generated is not one of our best practices. We did not charge your Smart Tuition account an additional fee.

If you have any other questions about your account, please contact me and I would be happy to assist.

Kind regards,

Jim Lozano
Director of Parent Experience
Smart Tuition

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2.85% Convenience Fee
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Rating: 1/51

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- My kids school recently converted to using Smart Tuition. I logged on today to make a payment for tuition which is a hefty cost on its own, to learn that there is a 2.85% convenience fee for any card used. The only way to surpass this fee is to use your checking account number which I don't feel comfortable using online with a website that is not very reputable. I would understand if the fee was a set fee i.e $10.00 or $15.00 but a % which is north of $30.00 each time is absurd!! I discourage everyone from using this. Smart Tuition - not so smart!

Company Response 08/30/2017:

Smart Tuition offers parents a variety of payment options. We offer automatic debits from checking, savings, or credit card accounts. We offer onetime payment options on the phone and on our website. We accept cash payments from CVS, Family Dollar, and 7 Eleven. Smart Tuition also has an app online that you can make a payment on your phone or IPAD.

Debit and Credit payments may have a convenience fee associated with the payment. In your situation, if you wish to avoid the credit card convenience fee, you can send us a check or ask the school if you can make an in school payment if you do not wish to use your routing number and bank account number from your checking or savings account. These types of payments are not charged a convenience fee. If you do decide to mail a check, please allow 7-10 days to avoid any delays in transit. Additionally, we advise parents on the confirmation page that there will be a credit card convenience fee and then they have the option of submitting the payment or cancelling the payment before the transaction goes through.

If you have any additional questions, please let us know.

Kind regards,

Jim Lozano
Director of Parent Experience
Smart Tuition

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Expect Smart Tuition to Fine You
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Rating: 1/51

Smart Tuition has two payment centers (East Coast and West Coast). The East Coast one is the one closest to Bill Pay (which most banks use to send checks to payees). So, you have to call Smart Tuition, find the closest location so the check is received in time. BUT they are not an "approved" Bill Pay recipient so the check gets there about five business days after it says it will be paid, resulting in late fees. This company is slow to give back the $40 late payment, you usually have to ask twice for your money. I don't trust giving them my bank information for a monthly withdrawal. Not sure who sold our school a dud of a program. They obviously did not read online reviews.

Company Response 07/14/2017:

I apologize for any delays that you experienced making a payment by mail. We offer other more efficient options such as automatic debits, one-time payments by phone or web, mobile app payments, and cash payments through 7 Eleven, Family Dollar, and CVS Pharmacy. Using these payment methods remove any delays that may be experienced my mail.

Smart Tuition has begun accepting some electronic payments for online bill pay. We are in the process of setting up our last electronic bill processor and hope to have that completed by the end of next month. We understand many parents use online bill payments from their bank. We hope that most of the online bill payments will come by electronic payment rather than by the mail. Since some banks do not use our electronic processors, we won't be able to receive all online bill payments electronically. We will continue to receive those payments by mail.

If you have any additional questions, please let us know.

Kind regards,

Jim Lozano
Director of Parent Experience
Smart Tuition

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Very Unprofessional and Unethical Company!
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Rating: 1/51

WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY -- This Jim ** guy should be canned. Scores of extremely unhappy customers, yet the policies and culture at Smart Tuition don't change. They have received multiple payments from us, WAY ahead of due dates, yet they still post after the due date and assess exorbitant late fees. And don't expect a returned phone call or e-mail when you need assistance.

The icing on the cake with these jerks was when I called them to see why a $2000 check, that they received approximately 8 days earlier had not been deposited or posted. They claimed they had not received it (even though I found out later they had, in fact, received it, and had deposited it a day earlier).

Fearing yet another unjustified late fee, I mailed a second $2000 check, with the woman agreeing to send it back if they received both checks. Even though the first check had already been deposited, they deposited the second one, too, and of course had no invoice of mine to apply it to. They refused to mail it back to me! The Archdiocese is making a huge mistake using Smart Tuition. In many ways, the company's practices and culture run in sharp contrast to what a Catholic school education is all about!

Company Response 03/02/2017:

I apologize for any issues you may have been having with Smart Tuition. I wasn't able to verify your account with Smart Tuition. If you would like me to review what happened on your account please email me at parentadvocate@smarttuition.com with your Family ID and a telephone number so I can review what happened on your account.

Kind regards,

Jim Lozano
Director of Parent Experience
Smart Tuition

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Horrible Customer Service, Unreasonable Fees
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Rating: 1/51

I am dealing with this company for 3 years now and will talk to our school to make sure that parents have alternative payment options. They are unfriendly on the phone, their website is weird (charge you extra for using credit cards, don't give options with pay date - "now" only, no option to pay on the date of your choice - very convenient for them, see next), outrageous late payment fees ($55). Misleading on the phone, no chance to talk to the supervisor if any problems with customer service representative... Do I have to continue? Just stay away from them if you can.

Company Response 02/06/2017:

Thank you for being a Smart Parent for 4 years now. I apologize you did not have a great experience with us. I have waived your late fee as a courtesy. I also wanted to let you know that we are working on a new parent website in the near future. Regarding the late fees, we work with each school to determine how much late fees should be each year. I will review the phone call from our agent and see if there are any issues with the way the call was handled.

Kind regards,

Jim Lozano
Director of Parent Experience
Smart Tuition

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Unethical and Potentially Illega Billing Practices
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Rating: 1/51

WOODBRIDGE, NEW YORK -- The problem with Smart Tuition stems from their self-admitted practice of crediting payments when they POST them instead of when they RECEIVE them. That gives them the flexibility to post a payment late, and profit from the late fees they charge. This billing practice is illegal in many states. I encourage everyone to send a letter to your states' attorney general, and to the CFPB to complain of the practice.

I've also spoken to a law firm about the possibility of getting a class certified. Stay tuned. Additionally, if your state has a Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) like California, you might be able to bring a claim against them in your state, and recover costs. Bottom line is that the practice of penalizing payers for the lax practices of the payee should never be acceptable. An ethical company would never engage in such a practice.

Company Response 12/16/2016:

Good afternoon,

I apologize for any frustration you are having with Smart Tuition. We consider your payment paid on the date we receive the payment, not when we post the payment. If you would like to contact me about your account, please contact me at parentadvocate@smarttuition.com. If you can provide your Family ID and/or phone number I will contact you at the number provided.

Sincerely,

Jim Lozano
Director of Parent Experience
Smart Tuition

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Horrible Experience Over the Last Several Year
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Rating: 1/51

MASSACHUSETTS -- Smart Tuition is a ridiculous company to deal with. Their online interface is archaic. The way they process payments is awful. They love sending out late fees. I recently mailed my payment 10 days in advance and was penalized with a late fee. They don't credit your account when they RECEIVE it...they credit you when they PROCESS it. This has happened so many times in our 6+ years of being mandated to use their service. To call it a service is ridiculous.

I tried to pay for 2 payments online (1 on time payment and a future payment) and they wanted to charge a $78 CONVENIENCE fee. So STUPID. Why are they trying to take such steep advantage of being paid electronically? I am fed up with them. I am going to seriously petition the board of our school and talk it up amongst parents to get rid of Smart Tuition.

Company Response 11/17/2016:

I apologize for any frustration you have experienced. I wasn't able to pull up your account from that email address. I would like to discuss this with you on Friday. Please email me your contact information at parentadvocate@smarttuition.com. We do accept payments from your checking or savings account with a routing number and bank account number for no fee. Either way, I would like to look at your account and discuss this further.

Sincerely,

Jim Lozano
Director of Parent Experience
Smart Tuition

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Late Fee?!
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Rating: 1/51

SCARSDALE, NEW YORK -- Received a letter in the mail from Smart Tuition to register to make payments. Couldn't register. Received failure messages of being unable to find or create account. The invoice says I can pay at 7-11 which I went to that is listed as an authorized payment location. 7-11 had no idea what I was talking about and said other mothers came for something for some reason. Continued to scramble to get the payment made. Decided to drop check in the mail.

Turns out it was received late and I accessed a $50 late fee. Called and waiting on hold for a considerable time only to be told over and over again, "Sorry, we don't waive late fees." I tried to explain how we tried multiple paths to get it paid on time especially since this was our first time and was unfamiliar with the process. No consideration was made. Horrible customer service. We will continue to provide negative reviews of this service.

Company Response 11/17/2016:

I apologize for any frustration you have experienced with Smart Tuition. I could not find an account for you under that email address. Can you please email me your contact information at parentadvocate@smarttuition.com and I will contact you on Friday to see what went wrong?

Sincerely,

Jim Lozano
Director of Parent Experience
Smart Tuition

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Can't Stand!!
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Rating: 1/51

When I called to try to get the auto draft date changed, I was told that I have to give a 3-4 day notice. Then when I asked to speak to a supervisor regarding the matter, I was asked "Why". What happen to good customer service. Well I can tell you that it is not at Smart Tuition. So when I got to really looking over the bill, I was told by my kids school that there was not a fee to pay the bill no matter which way it is set up. So now I see that I have been paying for a "convenience fee". Nothing is convenient when I have to pay my bill...

I will let my kids school know about the experience I just had, and suggest they find someone else. I plan on changing how I pay, and only pay to the school. So if your school is thinking about choosing them, then don't is what I recommend!

Company Response 10/12/2016:

I apologize for any frustration you experienced with Smart Tuition.Our representatives did advise you that the automatic debit was in process and it could not be stopped. We require 2 business days notice to stop the auto debit.The reason we need 2 business days is that we submit all auto debits the business day before so your bank has all the information is in place for the due date. Your due date is the 10th and you called on the 10th which was past the 2 days notice we need to stop the transaction. The school waived your late fee and it appears that you may have already spoken to them. I have requested our account manager for the school advise them of your situation.

If you wish to switch your payment method to a checking or savings account to avoid the credit card convenience fee, please give us a call to update that information.

I was concerned about your phone call with our agent so I reviewed it and found that it was satisfactory. I'm sorry you were upset about the fact that we could not stop the auto debit. Please feel free to contact me if you have any other concerns.

Kind regards,

Jim Lozano
Director of Parent Experience
Smart Tuition

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