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Smart Tuition

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1.2 out of 5, based on 69 ratings and
70 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.
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Smart Tuition
10 Woodbridge Center, Suite 200
Woodbridge NJ 07095
888-868-8828 (ph)
www.smarttuition.com
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Smart Tuition Took Payment Out of Wrong Account, Charged Me Fees and Gave Me Misinformation.
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Rating: 1/51

FALMOUTH, MASSACHUSETTS -- I changed the bank account for my automatic tuition charge using the Smart Tuition website. It seemed simple enough. Smart Tuition automatically withdrew the monthly payment from the old account, overdrawing the account and charging me when the payment came back. I was told it was my fault since I need to change the account 3 days before the payment is due to come out. When I explained I changed it 5 days before the customer service representative said that was impossible. I was "lying."

I was told the payment would then come out of the new account when it was tried again automatically. A week later it still hadn't come out of the new account. On a website chat I was told that was misinformation. I would need to manually take the payment out with my new account. Which I did. Smart Tuition refused to refund the fees due to their mistake.

Company Response 01/29/2020:

We apologize for any frustration that you experienced. If you would like to reach out to someone directly, please provide us with your Smart Tuition Family ID and contact information and we can review your account. Please email us at parentadvocate@smarttuition.com.

Sincerely,

Smart Tuition Customer Service

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Taking Funds Before the Due Date
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Rating: 1/51

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY -- My son's tuition has a date set for every month to be taken out on the 20th. It has always been on the 20th or after. This month the 20th was Martin Luther King Day. So instead of taking it out on the 21st (which would make sense) they took it out on the 17th. It overDrew my account and now I have fees. I was NEVER told that is their policy but the customer service guy told me they always do that. Well thanks for telling me...the customer! Customer Service basically told me they would not help me. I asked for a copy of where I agreed to have it taken out before the 20th and he stumbled. I have 2 overdraft at $34 a pop plus other fees that I want back.

Company Response 01/27/2020:

Good morning,
We apologize for any frustration that you experienced however we must provide banks all ACH requests the business day before the due date. If the due date was on a holiday weekend, we would submit the request to your bank on that Friday for a withdrawal on the Tuesday after the holiday. We cannot control if a bank holds the funds for an upcoming withdrawal. The information is stated in the monthly email regarding your automatic debit reminder that is typically email 7-10 days before the due date.
This is an example of the email that we send monthly for automatic debits.
All payments go into process 1 business day prior to the due date and cannot be stopped at that time.
**We were not provided specific account information, so I was not able to pull up a Smart Tuition account to provide specific information.
Sincerely,
Smart Tuition

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Fees Above All Else
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Rating: 2/51

NARRAGANSETT, RHODE ISLAND -- I mailed a check to them 14 days before the due date. Luckily, I check the account the day before the payment was due and they had not received the check, so I double paid, and talked to a customer service representative and gave them my checking account information. The day after the payment due date, the original check was processed. I mail about 10 checks a month to pay all kinds of businesses. Every other business I mail checks to take 3-4 days to process checks not 14 days. Strike one.

Then I made a payment by check again but made the mistake of using the payment by phone system and did not talk to a person. After the due date I got a notification that my bill had not been paid and was charged a $40 late fee. I called and was told they had no payment. I checked my bank account and got a bank verification that the money had been paid to Smart Tuition.

I called back and was told, “You applied the money to the wrong account.” Account numbers don't change year to year there is only one account number. After several questions the customer service representative acknowledged it was their system that automatically applied the money to the wrong account. He said the phone system applied the money to the 2016-2017 account not the 2017-2018. I find that explanation dubious. According to his explanation the phone system automatically misapplies payments if you have been with Smart Tuition over one year. Strike two.

Here is a quote from the email Smart Tuition sent after they corrected the situation, "Resolution: In this instance, the failed payment fee has been absorbed on your behalf." They are doing me a favor by not charging me the $40 fee for their mistake. The reason they are assigning blame to me, is that if there is a problem in the future the will say, "We forgave the $40 fee once already and we can't do it again." Strike three.

What I would have liked is an email saying, "We apologize for not applying your payment correctly and that we did not fix the problem the first time you called. We are in the process of updating our phone payment system so this error doesn't happen again. Of course we have reversed the $40 late payment charge as it was our error that caused the payment to be misapplied."

Moving forward, I would like Smart Tuition to process payments by mail within days not weeks and to have their phone system correctly apply payments, if this really was the problem. Errors and slowness on their part result in them making more money. Many parents are super busy and I am sure Smart Tuition's deception results in significant late fee revenue for the company. If your school forces you to use Smart Tuition you have to watch them very closely.

Company Response 02/20/2018:

I apologize for any inconvenience that you had with Smart Tuition. I would like to speak with you about your Smart Tuition account. I wasn't able to locate your account from any of the information that you provided. Please email me at parentadvocate@smarttuition.com so that I can look into your situation. I would need your Smart Tuition Family ID and a phone number to contact you.

Kind regards,

Jim Lozano
Director of Parent Experience
Smart Tuition

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Unhonest business, too bad my kids school uses it for payment
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Rating: 1/51

WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY -- Today I tried to find the payment of $200 for registration fee of my 2 kids to RSM last semester, because there is no record of exact amount to track on smart Tuition parent account( only show $200 paid on total tuion page) I was not able to check my payment method. ( ST provides bank card or criedit card) .

So I searched all my cards for the $200 payment, and didn't get it, I researched again for title, and finally found a $205.30 to Smart Tuition. I realized that I was charged fee for using credit card. But on their credit card payment page, there is NO sign on first page to show the convenient fee at all. If there were, I would not have paid that silly convenient fee since I have bank account saved.

And also I paid registration fee between March and April, on ST shows my payment at JUNE! That is also why it took me more than one hour to search the listing .

SmartTuion is not an honest business, if I have choice, I will not use this company again!

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Late fees
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Rating: 1/51

INDIANA -- Apparently, the late fee is now $50. That is what I was just charged. That's insane!

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Ineffective Customer Service
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Rating: 2/51

WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY -- I simply wanted a year end statement for the tuition I paid in calendar year 2017. I received one for the tuition paid in calendar year 2016. The statement had the school tax ID and ONLY the amount paid in 2016. I wanted it for tax purposes. Well, it's February 2018 and time for taxes for 2017. I was looking for a statement exactly like the one I used the year prior. The only answer I was given as to why I couldn't get one was that another statement would not be generated.

The only explanation was that there was only one statement per account per school year. That is somewhat understandable (not really, but okay). However, the school year didn't end in 2016, it ended in 2017 and I paid tuition in 2017 and I simply would like a statement with the amount I paid in 2017. Instead, the answer I got was combine the documents and it will have all the information you need.

I don't understand how such a simple request is met with that type of resistance. Why skip 2017 as if it didn't happen? If, for whatever reason, someone thought that a parent or guardian should have a year end statement, which covers a calendar year, at the end of one calendar year, then why not give them one for the following calendar year if that person used Smart Tuition to pay. It just doesn't make sense... at all. Again, there was no explanation for the policy. It's too easy to generate a document like that, not just for me, but for anyone who needs it. I wasn't asking anyone to move mountains.

Company Response 02/12/2018:

I apologize for the confusion. The tax information would normally be available on our website for the next year however the student withdrew and the account was deactivated in Smart Tuition. In these types of situations, parents should be able to go to the school to get this information if their account was deactivated.

I have emailed you and called you to send you the document you requested. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.

Kind regards,

Jim Lozano
Director of Parent Experience
Smart Tuition

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Unwarranted Late Fees
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Rating: 1/51

WOODBRIDGE, NEW JERSEY -- Similar to many of the reviews on this site over the years, it seems Smart Tuition has done nothing to address their on-going payment posting issue and aggressive application of late fees. I received an invoice for my son's tuition which was due on Saturday, Aug 15. I programmed through Bank of America's bill payment system that I have used without issue for over 10 years, for the total amount to be paid on Friday, August 14. By 8 am on Monday, AM Aug 17th Smart Tuition sent an email telling me that payment was not received and a late fee of $40 had been charged.

I called to inquire about the late fee and was notified that there is no grace period - the payment must be received by the due date. I asked to talk to a manager who explained that it typically takes 5 to 7 days to post payment and payments must be posted by the due date. As they do not receive payments electronically from any banks at this time, customers must pay their bills 5-7 days ahead of the due date for them to be applied before the due date. I expressed surprise that Smart Tuition expects customers to pay tuition a week ahead of the due date to offset the manual posting process -- he said this is their policy.

I asked if they had opened the mail from Friday and Saturday and were sure that they did not have my check - he said they most definitely had not checked all the mail yet. I suggested they hold off imposing fees and sending missed payment notices until they had opened the mail and posted all the payments from the due date. He said he would take that suggestion to his management. After reading this site it is clear this suggestion has been made and ignored for years now.

This only amplifies my negative impression of Smart Tuition from last year when they imposed late fees prior to issuing me a bill for my son's tuition. I called several times, requesting where to send the payment and was told to wait until an invoice was issued. The school had to intervene in order to get the late fee reversed. I think this is a great service for the private schools, but very poorly and unethically administered for the families.

Company Response 08/18/2015:

I apologize for any frustration you are experiencing with online bill pay. At this time, online bill pay checks are mailed to us and not sent electronically. The USPS advises Smart Tuition to advise our parents to allow 7-10 days for delivery. We have many other options to pay on time with Smart Tuition that do not depend on transit times for the mail. You can pay through our website at parent.smarttuition.com or over the phone at 1-888-868-8828 24 hours a day. There is no fee to make a payment unless you use a credit card. We also offer ACH auto debits, Pay Near Me, and some schools even accept payments in house. If you would like to discuss this with me please email me your contact information and I will contact you directly. I can also review the delivery times to make sure they were between the 7-10 days that the post office suggests. In the future, we hope to offer an electronic payment feature for online bill payments. Thank you for your feedback and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

Jim Lozano
Director of Parent Experience
Smart Tuition

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Bogus Late Fees
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Rating: 1/51

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 latter. 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.

Company Response 12/15/2014:

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 parentadvocate@smarttuition.com. 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.

Thank you,

Jim Lozano
Director of Parent Experience
Smart Tuition

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Sketchy Late Fees
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Rating: 1/51

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.

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Another Complaint For Their Customer Service Or Lack Thereof
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Rating: 1/51

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.

Company Response 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.

Thanks,

Melissa Severino

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