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Setting up Online Bill Pay and managing payment gateways

You can use Populi to accept online payments for tuition, fees, bookstore purchases, applications, and donations. Online payment options include credit cards, debit cards, and electronic checks.

Read general information about credit card processing here.

If you wish to activate Populi Bookstore, read this article.

The setup story

  1. If necessary, you set up accounts in your Chart of Accounts to which you direct funds received through online payments.
  2. You fill in the required settings in Financial > Settings > Online Payments.
  3. In Financial > Settings > Payment Gateways, you get set up with a payments processor. You have two options:
  4. You run a test transaction. If everything checks out, you can now start accepting online payments!

 

Step one: Chart of accounts

Several settings in the online payments setup process require that you link an item to your Chart of Accounts.

  • You'll need to select asset account into which you'll deposit funds received through cash, check/echeck, and credit/debit card transactions.
  • Likewise, you'll need to select asset accounts for your payment gateway accounts (if you have more than one).
  • If you're charging a convenience fee for credit/debit transactions, you'll need an income account for it.

Review your Chart of Accounts and make sure you have the accounts you'll require for the above settings. There's a chance you won't need to do anything, but it never hurts to be sure.

 

Step two: Financial > Settings > Online Payments

Go to Financial > Settings > Online Payments and fill in the following settings. When you're done, scroll back to the top of the screen so you can Save Settings.

Asset accounts

Select asset accounts from your Chart of Accounts into which payments from credit cards, checks (including electronic checks), and cash will be deposited.

Minimum credit card purchase

Enter the minimum amount for which a person may use a credit/debit card to pay an invoice. Each such transaction incurs a fee; imagine having to pay out 33 cents because someone paid a 10-cent library fine with their credit card!

Privacy Policy

A good Privacy Policy discloses, at minimum, the following items:

  • What information you collect
  • With whom you share it
  • How it can be corrected
  • How it is secured
  • How you communicate changes to the policy
  • How to address customer concerns over misuse of personal data

Receipt address and phone number

Enter the receipt and phone number you wish to print on receipts for online payments.

Refund Policy

Your Refund Policy must cover tuition, fees, and anything else for which you will accept credit cards and/or electronic checks as payment. Use clear, simple, direct language. Cross-reference what you enter here with the automated refund policies in Billing > Settings.

Send online payment notification emails to:

If you wish, enter an email address (or multiple addresses, separated by commas) to receive a notification every time someone makes an online payment.

Credit card convenience fee

Before adding a credit card convenience fee, please check with your payment processor and the applicable local laws to see what laws or regulations apply to such fees.

Enter the percentage you wish to charge as a convenience fee for credit/debit card transactions. This percentage will be added on the Pay Now page. Then, select an income account for the fee.

Enable recurring payments

If you have a Stripe payment gateway used for tuition and fees, you can check to enable recurring payments for tuition and fees. You can also enter optional text for an email to be sent to the payer every time you charge a recurring payment.

 

Step three: Financial > Settings > Payment Gateways

Go to Financial > Settings > Payment Gateways. If you're going with Stripe, you can set up your new Stripe account here (or link your existing account!). If you're using Authorize.net, you can enter or change your account credentials here after your application is approved.

  1. Click Add a payment gateway.
  2. Select a provider.
    • If you select Stripe, click Connect to Stripe. Fill in the signup form (or log in with an existing Stripe account). Once you save, it will automatically connect to Populi.
    • If you select Authorize.net, enter the Login and Transaction Key they sent you after your account was approved.
  3. Check the payment methods you wish to enable for this gateway. If you'd like to accept e-checks and ACH payments through Stripe, please contact Populi Support.
  4. If funds received through this gateway should go to an asset account other than the one you selected for credit cards in the Online Payments tab, choose a different account.
  5. Finally, click Save to add this payment gateway.

Uses for payment gateways

You can specify which payment gateway you wish to use for different kinds of online payments. For example, you may use Authorize.net for bookstore, but you want tuition, fees, and donations to go through your Stripe account. Or you may want to specify different gateways for different campuses.

The uses for your payment gateways are Tuition & Fees, Bookstore, and Donations. To change the uses:

  1. Click the use name.
  2. Select the gateway you wish to use for the different payment types, or select None if you don't wish to use that payment type for that use.
  3. At this time, eChecks are not available for use in Bookstore.

You should seldom have any need to change these uses.

To enable recurring payments for tuition & fees or donations...

  • You must have a Stripe gateway.
  • For tuition and fees, you must use Stripe for both credit cards and eChecks.
  • Likewise, for donations, you must use Stripe for both credit cards and eChecks.
  • In other words, you cannot mix Stripe and Authorize.net gateways for any use for which you'd like to enable recurring payments.

 

Step four: Run a test transaction

Now that you've enabled online bill pay, you're ready to run a test transaction. This helps verify that everything's working as it ought to.

  1. If you're using Authorize.net, make sure that you've taken your account out of Test Mode. Consult Authorize.net's documentation for details. If you're using Stripe, you're ready to go the moment you complete the signup form.
  2. Invoice yourself for a small fee that's due today. For testing purposes, you might want to lower your minimum credit card purchase setting.
  3. On your Populi Home page, there will be an alert about the invoice. Click the alert to go to the payment page.
  4. Pay with a credit card and/or electronic check (if you've enabled both, you should repeat this testing process for both payment methods).
  5. After the transaction is completed in Populi, check your Stripe dashboard or your Authorize.net merchant terminal—and your credit card account—to verify that it went through properly.
  6. Optional, but probably quite helpful in the long run: refund the transaction to familiarize yourself with that process.

 

How will you make online payments?

Students will be able to make online payments by following the linked Alert on their Populi Home page, or by using the Make a Payment link on their Profile > Financial Dashboard.

You'll be able to record an online payment for a student (say, the student comes to the office with a credit card, or a parent calls up to pay a bill) by going to the student's Profile > Financial > Dashboard. There you can click Make a Payment to go to the payment page, or click Someone else paying? to get a link to the payment page you can email to a third-party payer.

eCheck.net™

A few things to keep in mind with eCheck.net™ (you don't need to worry about these items with Stripe):

  • Make sure you get set up for Internet-initiated Entry (a.k.a. WEB)—there are other options, and they don't work with Populi!
  • After your account is approved, you need to set up Authorize.net to allow Populi to look up the status of old transactions. To do so, you must enable API access for Transaction Details. This help article from Authorize.net contains instructions for how to do that; complete the workflow under Transaction Details API.
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