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Smart Tuition

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12 Reviews & Complaints
Hi! My name is Melissa Severino and I am the Parent Advocate for Smart Tuition. Since 1988 Smart Tuition has successfully served as the financial connection between non-public K-12 schools and student families. We realize feedback is key to our continued success, which is why I encourage you to email me directly at parentadvocate@smarttuition.com. I would love to hear what you have to say and/or answer any questions you may have.

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Smart Tuition Stinks!
Posted by Vpowell230 on 09/13/2012
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 thru smart tuition -we go thru the school and they see the craziness as well. It is not you-it's smart tuition. They stink to high heaven.
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Company Response on 01/15/2014:
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 parentadvocate@smarttuition.com.

Thank you,
Melissa Severino
Parent Advocate
Smart Tuition
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Posted by Smart Tuition Customer Support on 2012-09-14:
I am sorry to hear you have some concerns about how and when Smart Tuition processes payments in the mail. Without locating your Smart account, I am unable to provide you a more specific response. Please contact me directly at (866) 873-9772 ext 1 or email me at parentadvocate@smartuition.com. I would love the opportunity to speak with you directly, regarding your specific situation. In the meantime, I would like to further clarify our policies and procedures when it comes to processing payments.

Smart Tuition processes checks and money orders delivered by mail Monday-Friday (excluding federal holidays). Mail is collected at our lock box five times a day to ensure payments are processed the day we receive them and are then posted to your Smart Tuition account the next business day. With over 10,000 payments processed each day, I can assure you there is a streamlined process in place. Smart Tuition would never sit on payments to cause someone to be late. In fact, the opposite is true, which is why we offer three immediate payment options (web, phone & Auto-debit). Unfortunately, payments sent through U.S.P.S. are subject to possible delivery delays, whether it’s due to weather conditions, federal holidays, or their own internal process.

We are truly sorry your payment took so long to be delivered. Again, you can avoid possible delivery delays by making your payment by phone at (888) 868-8828; we are available 24/7, 365 days a year. You can also log into your account online at www.parent.smarttuition.com, or by setting up to pay automatically. Majority of our families choose to pay with one of the three methods, because those payments are considered paid in good faith the day they are made.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to speak with you. Thank you – Melissa Severino, Parent Advocate with Smart Tuition
Posted by wjk898 on 2012-09-17:
The US Dept of Interior which recently self-appointed itself the collection agency for the Indian land lease fees for the Indians (who've collected those fees themselves since time immemorial - but, oh wait... I'm forgetting; it created "jobs") also do that late mailing thingee. Bill arrives by USPS about 2 days before its due date. Late fees run only about 2 bits per month but it generates a lot of paperwork (e.g., a separate mailing and I bet a separate employee to enter that late fee) - which of course is the grist that government agencies thrive on.
Posted by Janice on 2013-08-05:
Terrible. Tired of this site dipping into my account before the due date. This has caused my account to be overdrawn, will you be reimbursing me the late fee?
Posted by Bjwild on 2013-08-24:
Couldn't agree more! I have adjusted my automatic payment twice and still get hit with $50 late fees each month. Not very consumer friendly--but wait, Smart Tuition exists to serve businesses (schools), NOT consumers.
Posted by Paul on 2013-10-17:
Smart tuition has been very frustrating to work with. I mail my check a week before the due date and STILL get assessed a late fee because of their inability to process my check. I believe this is their attempt to generate additional revenue. I'm going to recommend that our organization stop using this company.
Posted by Barb on 2014-01-14:
I totally agree with you. I have never been late with tuition when we were able to pay my daughter's school directly. Now that they've switched to Smart Tuition, I've been assessed a late fee twice! As previous posters have written, I have mailed my checks 7-8 days before the due date. I call my bank and check that the check has cleared on the due date, and they have. This is money that is no longer available to me, and yet the company doesn't "post" the payment until the next day. If the check doesn't clear, then assess the late fee and an NSF fee to boot, but don't tell me that you can't post the payment until the next business day. These are shoddy business practices!
Posted by Annete on 2014-01-23:
This company never had the correct amount for my child`s tuition to be paid from the very beginning. Also had charged late fees every month. It does not take more than a week to receive payment. I agree with the individual to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
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Not Really 24 Hour Customer Service
Posted by Kimsfamily4 on 08/14/2012
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 exorbant 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.
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Posted by mdicksonspeaks on 2012-10-08:
I have had the same experience with this company. See below:

Company is charging me $40.00 on several occasions indicating that my payment was late. My payments were sent in a more than timely manner directly from my bank in Staten Island as follows: 7/9 for 7/15, 8/7 for 8/15, 9/4 for 9/15. They show the payments being received as follows 7/16, 8/16, and 9/17. This company is collecting tuition for my son's Catholic school. All three payments late? Really? They have refused to correct the error. This is just a low rate collection agency with low rate tactics trying to scam the parents.
Posted by amom on 2012-10-15:
My daughter eceived ascholarship in August for her private school which lowered our monthly payments. Without fail every month we get an automated call to qait on the line and then the person tells us we are laate when we actually ar enot because of the scholarship. Last month we got the call an dthey said they were trying to apply the scholarship. Why does it take 3 months to do this?
Posted by Concerned Parent on 2012-10-24:
I am yet to meet a parent that is thrilled with Smart Tuition. According to their records, we haven't paid our kids' tuition this academic year (and yet they've cashed both September and October checks. Both payments were received DAYS before they were due, yet our late fees are mounting. This is my second year dealing with Smart Tuition. Great school, but I am seriously considering (like many parents I know) to put the kids in a different school. As parents we have enough entities to battle with (health insurance payment denials, scheduling, childcare etc). Spending two hours on the phone every month in order to avoid being nickel and dimed by Smart Tuition is exhausting.
Posted by SmartTuition on 2013-03-04:
Smart Tuition implements a follow up program to help get parents back on track. We deeply regret any situation that you may feel unfairly associated a fee and our weekly phone calls and emails with your account. Smart provides families a courtesy waiver to every family – and unlimited waivers if the lateness was due to a mail delay, online banking transfer (which converts to a paper check and is mailed to us – not transferred to us immediately as some may expect), medical emergency, or an error on our part. I can immediately authorize any fees waived immediately if you contact us today, to let us know.

We process checks and money orders delivered by mail Monday-Friday (excluding federal holidays). Mail is collected at our lock box five times a day to ensure payments are processed the day we receive them and are then posted to your Smart Tuition account the next business day. With over 10,000 payments processed each day, I can assure you there is a streamlined process in place. Smart Tuition would never sit on payments to cause someone to be late. In fact, the opposite is true, which is why we offer three immediate payment options (web, phone & Auto-debit). We recently launched a pay-in-person feature that instantly updates your account when you pay at 7-11 or Ace Cash locations (more than 15,000 across the country). Unfortunately, payments sent through U.S.P.S. are subject to possible delivery delays, whether it’s due to weather conditions, federal holidays, or their own internal process.

Smart Tuition waives a significant percentage of its follow-up fees – but charges them in conjunction with your schools set late fee to make sure that your school's delinquencies are kept to a minimum. As you may know, many non-public schools have been closed in the last few years – and non-payment of tuition is one of the largest contributing factors. Our intentions are good, and clearly if you had every intention of paying on time – we will always refund you that fee.

Melissa Severino
Parent Advocate
(866) 873-9772 ext 1
Email: parentadvocate@smartuition.com
Posted by Chicago mom on 2014-01-09:
This comment is not consistent with what I was told recently. I mail a check and I was told to leave TEN days for mail delivery time from chicago- not alaska- and that checks received on any day would be posted the NEXT day. For example a check received on monday gets posted tuesday. I even clarified that comment with your rep to make sure I understood that a check would be in your office a day before it was credited to my account- and that interpretation was confirmed. Poor cash management impacts schools and is just unprofessional when tuition payments are not posted timely. Ridiculous.
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Poor Customer Service
Posted by NumberPeg on 10/21/2010
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY -- I had to pay a $30 late charge because I never received my invoice. I purposely asked for invoices to be mailed as this piece of paper lying around would remind me to send my payment. When I realized that I did not make a payment for the month I logged on to their website promptly paid the bill and the late fee. It took 3 requests to find out what happened to my invoice (they claim it was mailed) to get a response. In that response they claim to have answered me previously but I went back to their 2 previous emails and no where do they state what happened to that invoice.

I guess they thought that people would not save their previous emails. I can read.
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Posted by spiderman2 on 2010-10-21:
Smart Tuition is a horrible company. Thankfully our school got rid of them several years ago. I was getting automated phone calls from them stating that the tuition wasn't paid when it was. Then I would sit on the phone for 30 minutes to talk to someone only to be told they couldn't help me and someone would call me back. Of course, that never happened. They also never got the amount right, the amount they were charging me(which was less than the actual payment should have been) was just a number pulled out of thin air. I hope your school can go in-house like ours did. It is so much easier!
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Late Fee, Failed Bank Charge Fee for Their Error
Posted by Arnoldseto on 04/07/2014
They incorrectly transcribed my account number from the canceled check I provided them for the first payment, and now they charge me two fees?? Give me a break.
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Gouging On Late Fees
Posted by Mijomouse on 03/15/2014
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 suppose to make the payment.

And they pride themselves for helping schools and parents alike. Absolutely despicable.
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Posted by clutzycook on 2014-03-17:
My kid's school uses Smart Tuition too and I was a little dismayed that they don't have an easy way to make a payment online (you can pay online, but for a "convenince fee"). What I do is I pay it through my bank's online bill pay and I set it up to go through several days before it's due. If the payment is due on the 10th (it's the same date every month), I try to get it there no later than the 5th or 6th. As for trying to remember to pay it, I could set up recurring payments through my bank, but what I do is set up a recurring reminder on my smartphone's calendar to start reminding me at least 10 days before that the bill is coming due.
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Unethical Billing Practices - Late Fee Assessment
Posted by Dan Meyers on 01/13/2014
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.
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Company Response on :
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 parentadvocate@smarttuition.com. Thanks – Melissa Severino
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Posted by clutzycook on 2014-01-13:
I've noticed that they take their sweet time posting payments to your account. I've read complaints about them for a number of years
Posted by MR. KNOW IT ALL on 2014-02-15:
checks have to be sent out 7-10 business days PRIOR to due date... mail in payment option is not very convinient, not all parent have the money ready 7-10 days before the due date, i would recomend use the on line or phone payment option, is much faster and easier, and payments on line or phone are posted that same day as soon as youre done making the payment. it will only take 1-3 business days for the money to be taken out of bank account but posted to the smart tuition account that day. dont use mail in system, i switched and it has worked for me.
Posted by Dan Meyers on 2014-03-23:
Mr. Know It All, this is the advice I get from from Smart Tuition. My response is, no, I won't do either of those things: send in my payment a week early, or use their on-line system. The reason is because I use Quicken Bill Pay for budgeting and tax preparation. So I am sticking with this major on-line bill paying system. Now, why won't I send in my payment a week early. Because there is not one other company, that I have ever dealt with, that has a problem caching a check and tried to stick me with the bill. Not one. Ever. Only ST. And they are in the finance business for goodness sake! Can't cash a check on time - give me a break. So nope, I'm not doing either of those things. Not my problem they can't cash a check in a timely matter and I am absolutely not paying a late fee because of it.

More importantly, their process is wrong. They should mark the bill as paid when the check is received, not cashed. Then if the check is NSF, they have a legitimate claim. This is standard operating procedure for every legitimate company. This is really my complaint with ST - their process is incorrect at best and designed to garner late fees from people who do not know what reasonable and customary bill payment is.
Posted by Dan Meyers on 2014-03-23:
Response to the company response.

To resolve this on-going issue here is what ST needs to do:

Start posting in each payee's account when payments are received, and when they are cashed.

There are many people here and on other sites, all complaining of the same issue. So, collect data by adjusting your internal processes as suggested above. Talk to Quicken Bill Pay - a peer in financing about this issue. Call and/or email people who have called/emailed ST and complained of this problem. Then go figure out how to improve your process, implement the process change, and you will have fixed the problem.

Offering rewards or suggesting people send in their checks a week early is not a credible solution. This is clearly a long-standing issue at ST. As a customer advocate, you should not be offering rewards, you should be doing the above work. This will fix the problem for the customers you represent.
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Posted by Catngoldfish on 12/26/2013
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.
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Company Response on :
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.
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Another Complaint For Their Customer Service Or Lack Thereof
Posted by Jtcposts on 05/09/2013
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.
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Company Response on 05/22/2013:
Hi Jtcposts,

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 parentadvocate@smarttuition.com.


Melissa Severino
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Posted by Dave on 2013-05-10:
Our Child's school started using them last year in San Diego. The worst customer service I have ever experienced. They are trying to charge us extra for using our credit card (I believe it's illegal to charge the customer the merchant/exchange fee in CA and or NJ) and tell us that the school has instructed them not to accept Visa which the school has denied. After I called to complain they said a Sprvsr would call me back in 7-10 business days, today (30 days later!) I received a call from a rep telling me that the school made the decision not to accept VISA. The School Directory told us that she had make no such decision.
Really poor service and I hope our school stops working with them.
Posted by Dave W. on 2013-07-12:
Totally agree
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Smart Tuition Stinks - Late Fees that They Cause
Posted by Newitthouse on 05/01/2013
Our experience was similar to other reviews. Even though we sent our online payment in advance of the due date, they claim that they received it late from our bank and charged a late fee. Total incompetence!

They take no responsibility for their incomplete ability to process payments when received.
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Company Response on 05/01/2013:
Smart Tuition takes this matter very seriously. If there is any way you can show a payment mailed before the 11th – 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 parentadvocate@smarttuition.com. Thanks – Melissa Severino
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Posted by Obsfucation on 2013-05-01:
How far in advance did you send the payment? Bill payment services will generate an electronic payment whenever theycan, and these clear overnight. Some payees, however, are not equipped to process an electronic transmission, so the bill pay service generates a paper check and mails it to them. This check may be drawn right on your own account, or they may withdraw the money from your account and send a check on their account.
Obviously, if they have to send a paper check, it is going to take quite a bit more time to get processed.
Often, on the same screen where you schedule they payment, they tell you whether it will be electronic, or by check. If you find this payee requires a check by the last day of the month, you'd want to be scheduling it no later than the 26th (or so).
So depending on how the payment is made, and when you are making the payment, they could be telling you the truth.
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Unethical or Incompetent Billing Practices
Posted by Mdicksonspeaks on 10/08/2012
STATEN ISLAND -- This company appears to charge late fees when no late fees are due. At $40.00 a clip that could add up for them pretty fast. They claim that my first three payment with them were late. The payments are due on the 15th of the month. My bank mailed out the payments on 7/9, 8/7, and 9/4. Smart Tuition claimed that all three payments were late. How is it that NONE of my other payments were late during this period (or any other period for that matter)?????? My bank is very good about making my payments on time and in fact guarantees that they will make them on time, so I have nothing to gain, I am just absolutely incensed at the arrogance of this company. When I called and spoke to Keith (no last name) he said he could only tell me what his records (the computer) showed. When I asked to speak to his supervisor (Allan - again no last name - can't give - company policy) Keith told me that it could be quite a wait. So I said thanks and hung up. If your school is considering using this collection agency - please refer them to the Internet and look at these posts There is something not right with this company.
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Company Response on 10/9/2012:
Smart Tuition takes this matter very seriously. If there is any way you can show a payment mailed before the 11th – 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 parentadvocate@smarttuition.com. Thanks – Melissa Severino
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Posted by spiderman2 on 2012-10-09:
Our school dumped them several years ago. I had the same issues you are having. Payments that were sent in on time and then marked late. Also, my tuition was never the correct amount. They seemed to make up a number out of the blue and decide that was what I owed. The final straw was when they started calling me with automated messages saying I was in arrears and when I held to talk to someone they had no information whatsoever. Many people had this problem and our school got rid of these incompetent people.
Posted by Miss Marple... on 2012-10-09:
Are you making sure your parent’s identification number is on the payment? If they have to look that up, it might delay the credit to the account.
Posted by mdicksonspeaks on 2012-10-10:
Yes, the number is on the check. Listen the payments were sent by the bank on 7/9, 8/7, and 9/4. Smart Tuition claims they RECEIVED the payments on 7/16, oops just missed it, 8/16, oops just missed it again, and 9/17, oops almost made it. Are you kidding me? The pattern is clear. In 18 months of using my bank to send payments I have NEVER had a late payment. And even during this period ONLY Smart Tuition recorded a late payment. Sorry, but the odds are against it.
Posted by mdicksonspeaks on 2012-10-14:
Problem seem to be resolved for now.
Posted by anon on 2013-02-04:
I was very nervous to even sign a tuition contract for an after school center, much less when i was handed the leaflet for smart tuition i was wary. i have good reason to be. i had to pull my daughter out of her activities for private reasons. i followed the schools insane drop out fee and am still being charged tuition for them. I plan on taking the school to small claims over this matter. don't attend a school that uses SMART TUITION!!!!!!!!!!!!
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