NEWARK, NEW JERSEY -- My child's private school decided in 2010-2011 to use this company for handling tuition payments. They charge a one-time fee for the initial set up as a new parent (you have no choice but to pay this) and then want to charge an additional fee for DD. Since I have the option of bill pay through my bank, I have used this service and saved the fee.
Smart tuition supposedly mails the invoices in "enough time to send payments" but I have yet received one with more than 2 day turn around time. I have auto pay set up for this since I pay the same amount each month, but Smart Tuition is notorious for having excuses to post your payments late then charge an exorbitant fee of almost $70 for late processing.
This last one was because the 15-digit family ID changed by one digit and Smart Tuition did not notify the parents that this was the case. There was a delay on THEIR END in processing the payment because one digit was off (which again let me emphasize, they did not notify us that it had changed from one year to the next) and they charged their $70 late fee. I tried calling their "24 hour customer service" 4 different times in a 2 day period, but was put on hold for more than 30 minutes each time. I tried the live chat on-line, but was told "there was no one to assist with live chat at this time" all 4 times. I was finally able to reach them by email but their response did not come in a timely fashion. By their own accord, they had received the check before the due date, but delayed processing it. When I asked that the late fee be waived because it was in my opinion their delay, they told me no, the school would have to do that.
Of course once the issue was explained to the school, they gave permission to waive the late fee and agreed that Smart Tuition had failed to post the payment in a timely manner and keep the parents informed of the change in ID numbers. The late fee was waived and I then had a negative balance. That same day, I received an automated call from Smart Tuition while I was preparing dinner stating I had an overdue balance (I didn't) and I could hold the line for a customer service representative to discuss. After waiting 10 minutes, I hung up and tried the live chat once again. After a 5 minute wait on the live chat, the customer service representative told me I did not have an overdue balance but because the calls were scheduled in the morning and not cancelled after the school waived the fee, I was interrupted.
If your school is looking to have a company handle tuition payments, I would NOT recommend the unorganized, rude SMART TUITION.
Smart Tuition is either inept or has shady Business Practices. Since they work so hard on their internet reputation and pay for positive reviews I can only assume the later.
Here's the deal, I use Bill Pay to pay all of my bills. I have for over 10 years. I know how to use Bill Pay. I know that my payment to Smart Tuition is Due on the 5th of the month. I set my Bill Payment to have the check delivered to Smart Tuition on the 2nd of the month. But for whatever reason they post my payment late and charge me a fee. For example, my Bank delivered my check to Smart Tuition on July 2nd, they didn't post my payment until July 9th. I had my bank personally follow-up with Smart Tuition and have the late fee removed.
Smart Tuition advised that if I just used their website and gave them my Bank info than they could automatically debit my account. Well, I'm not giving my Bank info, especially to a company that I don't trust. I also don't understand why my bill payments are posting late with them. Not once in my years and years of using Bill Pay have I ever had a payment post late. Not once! And trust me, I have set the payment to be received on the due date for plenty of my bills.
So for October, I decided I would send in two payments for my child's tuition. One Payment was sent directly to the school. It was a small amount, not enough to cover the amount due. The second Payment was sent to Smart Tuition. The delivery date was set for October 2nd. Guess what happened...Well my School received the payment on 10/2 and reported the payment to Smart Tuition on 10/3. The payment was immediately credited to my account. However, the other payment, well it wasn't received until 10/8. WHY?? There is really no explanation for that except for Smart Tuition holds payments and doesn't credit them to the account timely so that they can continue to exist by profiting on late fees.
They will blame USPS, they will blame you for not setting your delivery date sooner, they will tell you to set-up an auto debit on their website. If you complain on the internet they will track you down to try to quiet you by offering to reverse the late fee. Read all the reviews on the internet. They all have the same complaints over years. They have a dedicated internet reputation scrubber (Parent advocate..yeah right) but no true and honest desire to conduct business correctly and fairly. By now they should have changed their ways.
I promise my school that made me conduct business with this parasite that if they continue this "service" next year I will thank them with my annual donation.
I am so sorry to hear about your frustration with online bill payments that were sent to Smart Tuition. My name is Jim Lozano and I am the Director of Parent Experience with Smart Tuition. I would really like the opportunity to speak to you so that we can review your account and research what happened in October. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide your Smart Tuition family ID, your name, and your phone number and I will contact you directly. Once again, I apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. I look forward to speaking with you.
Director of Parent Experience
WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY -- Our very first interaction with Smart Tuition was to be mysteriously slapped with two late/bank fees (totaling $70), even though as near as I could tell, our bank account information was all correctly entered and we received advance confirmation that our payment would be automatically debited on time. Even if our account information were incorrectly entered -- and as far as I can tell, it WAS correctly entered -- it is extremely sketchy and unprofessional start off by charging fees, without any advance warning. Of course, ethics aside, this company has every incentive to charge as many late fees as possible.
These fees will theoretically be refunded, after having complained to our school, but I worry -- especially given the raft of unfavorable reviews on this page and at the BBB -- that this company's business model / modus operandi is to charge bogus late fees at the drop of a hat, without any advance warning, and without any rational explanation of why they are being charged. It's worth mentioning that our school's previous tuition processing vendor does not have anywhere near this level of complaint and suspicion on the web. Thus, I don't think this is simply a matter of a line of business that naturally attracts complaint -- rather, it looks (to me, at least) like this is an operation with genuinely questionable practices.
Unfortunately, I'm not really their customer (the school is), so all I can do is complain to my school and to impress upon them that having a scummy parasite insinuated into their value chain reflects poorly on them.
I would also encourage other schools doing due diligence on Smart Tuition to tread carefully. My kid's school didn't bother to do a simple Google or BBB search (which, again, reflects poorly on them), but if you are a school and reading this, you are already miles ahead for taking the 5 minutes to look for signs of trouble with the company on the web.
WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY -- Wow! Consistently terrible service. I have never heard of a company that chooses to bill late payments based on checks clearing their bank. I have no control on when the check is sent to the bank. Or how long it takes a bank to 'clear' it. However, I can tell you that all of my other accounts including mortgage and major credit cards receive my payment and I have no late fees. Maybe I am just lucky with all my other accounts, however, I don't think that is the case.
I think Smart Tuition either holds payments to get a kick back every month or something to that nature. Very odd and very suspicious. I also checked out BBB and funny...they have many complaints lodged against them...like 37 complaints in the past 12 months. That's a lot! However, they cleared them so kudos on that.
Wouldn't it be better to forgo the complaints in the first place. I had heard complaints from many parents at my child's preschool, but I had only encountered it once....fast forward a year and we now get late payment charge of $30 every single month without fail. Very Frustrating and we no longer go through Smart Tuition -we go through the school and they see the craziness as well. It is not you-it's Smart Tuition. They stink to high heaven.
Thank you for posting your concerns and I am sorry you have experienced issues with payments being delivered on time. I can assure you we do not hold on to payments. With over 10,000 checks processed daily we have a streamlined process in place to ensure payments are delivered to your child's school as soon as possible, so they can meet their financial obligations.
I would like to be able to review your account and speak with you further about your concerns. At your earliest convenience, please email me at email@example.com.
NEW YORK -- After four phone calls in less than 2 years with Smart Tuition, I find their practice of charging late fees absolutely ridiculous. I am glad I read so many similar reviews. My experience today was no different. An invoice sent on 8/31 and received by me on 9/5 states the balance is due on 9/5. I am disheartened at the rude customer service received during my phone call. I anticipate seeing a late fee attached to my next bill, despite being told I would not. The error was clearly not mine, yet I was spoken to as though I was a customer who disregarded bills and due dates, which is absolutely not the case.
I am disappointed in the lack of customer service, and blatant misuse of late fees by this company. It was so awful last year, a newsletter was sent out to our entire school, "advising" parents to send payments the day they are received due to the overwhelming parent complaints on receiving late fees. How disconcerting. I plan to advocate to discontinue use of this company and will urge other schools to follow suit. It obviously has significant flaws that need to be addressed in order to practice fair business. Shame on Smart Tuition.
Hi Eric -I am really sorry for any frustration we have caused you. We take your feedback and concerns very seriously, especially with regards to being treated poorly. That is something I want to address asap. I would also like to address the timing of your September invoice. We mail out invoices 18-20 days before the due date; however, any US mail delivery delays can certainly change the timing of when you receive the invoice. You certainly have the option to have your invoice emailed to you instead of being sent in the mail.
I really want to address these items, but it is going to require me to view your account. Please email me (parent firstname.lastname@example.org) at your earliest convenience. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY -- [snip] Having dealt with may online payment solutions, I am appalled that their website does not offer automatic scheduling of online payments, when this technology is widely available in most other sites that process payments (Verizon, Amex, all banks). You cannot even schedule a payment several days or a week in advance, it has to be done right at the time when you want to make the payment (1-2 days in advance).
[snip] If I have 10 payments to make in a year, they have 10 chances to get me with a late fee because there is a chance I may forget or may be out on vacation on one of those 10 occasions when I am supposed to make the payment.
And they pride themselves for helping schools and parents alike. Absolutely despicable.
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY -- I've been dealing with Smart Tuition for five years now. Every year, I will get two late fee assessments. I don't, and never have made a late payment. I pay all my bills by schedule on-line and haven't received or paid a late fee in 10+ years. I get various reasons from ST: the check was delivered late, we go by when we post it not when we receive it, a holiday only allowed us 2 days for processing, etc. None of these reasons are reasons to charge me a late fee for a check delivered on the 1st. And I no longer believe the check was late story because none of my other creditors has this problem. Smart Tuition, however, has had this problem for 5 years in a row!
If you press back hard enough, they will "forgive" the late fees. And I do mean forgive - they are doing you a favor - they are not and have never admitted to being in error.Even when we are both looking at bank records showing a posting on the 5th! It is a huge waste of time: getting bank records, calling, and call-backs, arguing, etc.Horrible way to start a day.
UPDATE: I see they have a parent advocate on this site. By all means, use that service. But please, also lodge your complaint here and at the BBB until they actually change their business practices. And as of 01/12/2014, I assure you they are up to their same poor billing practices again this year. Same as it ever was.
Smart Tuition takes this matter very seriously. If there is any way you can show a payment mailed before the 1st - we will immediately refund any and all fees and provide $50 towards your tuition payments in each of those months. Please contact me at (866) 873-9772 ext 1 or email me at email@example.com. Thanks – Melissa Severino
This company is the shadiest company EVER and I wish my kids school would change. They never sent me a bill or email telling me how much my FIRST payment was so then I get charged a late fee. THEN I pay over the phone with my routing number that a representative took down only to find out the biggest bank in America..BofA doesn't accept this program. SHADY. So I get charged another $25. So then I tell them that the $35 is their fault because I never received communication and so is the $25 because no one told me it was possible for BofA not to accept payment to them and I get told my dispute will take 7-10 business days..this is crazy!!! I just want to scream. SHADY.
Melissa (parent advocate) from Smart Tuition resolved my issues above beautifully. She did her research and handled the matter very professionally. If you are having any problems with Smart Tuition I urge you to contact her. She seems to genuinely care about how parents feel and are using the system. Thank you Melissa!
Your concerns are taken seriously and I am sorry you have recently not had a pleasant experience. Bank of America accepts thousands of payments from us every day, so I am going to need to review your account details in order to better understand the situation to figure out what happened. I have sent you an email directly with my contact information. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.
WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY -- I chose to send in my checks to them since I prefer to use my banking online service through my bank. In all my years of banking online, I've never had an issue with payments not received or received late by the agency I send it to. After reading many other complaints on this site, it seems that I am not alone. Smart Tuition "received" (aka. processed) my payment one business day late. For this, they charged me a late fee of $85. I called to dispute this and got very insufficient service from them. I called on 9/21/12 and the agent told me that I needed to fax them a copy of my bank statement showing the payment and when it was sent (not sure how this is considered legitimate evidence, and if you're the customer should I be the one to do all the leg work? Well, I did comply with their process. I also called my bank to verify the payment sent date (which was a week before the payment should have been received). I called them back later that day to verify that they received the fax, to which the woman on the line just told me that I needed to wait for a response back. They never called me and never took off the $85 late fee even though they received my "late" check funds and took off that balance. I called them again today *10 days* later to say that I am still disputing the $85 charge, and by 2 weeks later, I was still waiting to hear back from an account manager who needs to review the issue. They told me that I need to wait another 7-10 business days. I finally had to go to the school Finance Director and *she* handled it and removed the late payment. Wait... what did we partner with Smart Tuition for if we are doing all the work? Unacceptable.
I'm not sure why our school chose to use Smart Tuition, but I am very dissatisfied that we have to use their service. Seems that I am not the only parent who is dissatisfied because a survey was sent out recently to all parents asking for their input on this service. Hopefully we will discontinue working with them. If you are a school, or looking for this type of service, find another one to partner with. Smart Tuition is obviously lacking to the opinion of many parents.
I recently left you a message to follow up with your concerns. I am truly sorry you did not have a pleasant experience. We pride ourselves on providing excellent customer service, so I would love the opportunity to speak with you further, when it is convenient for you. Please feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY -- Last month Smarth Tuition charged me a series of late fees. According to their records they never received my check. This is the first time in 20 years of paying private school tuition I was late. I immediately paid by debit card, and was charged a 2.5% fee (on an $800 bill)? Really? Then a $50.00 late fee. Really? My wife and I have credit scores above 800. Who do you think an objective third party would side within this situation?
In order to avoid paying another late fee, on Tuesday, September 25, I submitted my payment using the routing slip on my check. Of course, their convenient way of not posting until two business days later (what that's about I don't know, but smacks of unethical if not illegal behavior) left me hanging until Friday September 28, when I discover the payment has not yet been recorded. When I call their office I get an answering machine? Really? I'm guessing they were hoping that I would not notice, and then after October 1 I would be late again. Of course I could have paid by Debit Card immediately, but I would be charged another 2.5%? Really? I also find it interesting that this month I was sent a bill for the $50.00 late fee, but no new bill, and would have been late if I would not have noticed.
I've been in law enforcement for 30 years, and I feel like I'm dealing with a loan shark.
Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention. Upon reviewing your account, I would like to speak to you in more detail. Please call me at (866) 873-9772 ext 1. In the meantime, I am going to clarify Smart Tuition's policies and procedures.
Your child's school along with our other 2,500 schools has partnered with Smart Tuition to assist with the workload involved in collecting tuition payments from over 250,000 families nationwide. Private schools rely heavily on the timely receipt of payments in order to meet their financial obligations that keep the school up and running. Every school has different needs, so Smart Tuition works with each school in determining the policies that works best. In addition, we assist in providing flexible payment method options that can assist parents in making payments. The use of credit/debit card is only another option of making a payment. We also offer our parents the ability to mail in a check/money order, or to pay by phone or web using their checking or savings account. From your post it sounds like the credit card you used was linked to a checking account. If that is the case, I would highly suggest you pay using your checking or savings account in order to avoid the convenience fee associated with credit/debit card transactions.
I would also like to further clarify that Smart Tuition does not assess multiple follow up fees in a month. A follow up fee is only assessed if the account has an outstanding balance by the due date. The only other situation where a fee would be assessed is if a payment was unsuccessful, in which case a $25 bank fee would be applied. Payments made by phone or web are considered paid the day they are made (by 11:59 pm EST) in good faith. Should the payment turn out to be unsuccessful, then a follow up fee would be assessed as a result of the account balance not being paid. With over 250,000 families it is impossible to manually apply follow up fees, so the process is automated; however, if ever a payment is shown to Smart Tuition to be inaccurately assessed a follow up fee; we will immediately remove the fee. Even if a concerted effort was made but the fee was assessed without being the fault of the tuition payer, we immediately work with the school to remove the fee. We are on your side and I would hope you can call me to get these fees removed immediately."
I hope my above response has helped clarify our policies and procedures surrounding your concerns. Again, I would like you to contact me directly so I can review your account with you. Melissa Severino – Parent Advocate- Smart Tuition – (866) 873-9772 ext 1 or email me at email@example.com.