U of T introduces online admission deposits

Close up of female typing on laptop

Applying for programs can be a stressful experience for many students – from writing personal statements to requesting references to hoping for good news. Now, U of T has simplified one part of the process for admitted students, and will soon allow them to pay program admission deposits online.

In the past, students had to mail their admission deposit forms along with deposits in the form of a Canadian dollar bank draft. Starting in spring 2019, students will be able to pay their admission deposits through ACORN anywhere in the world where VISA or Mastercard are accepted.

“Students had to get a bank draft, put it in the mail and wait for it to be received and processed by Student Accounts,” says Audrey Cheung, manager of Student Accounts. “The whole time they’re wondering whether the money has been received and whether their spot in the program is secured.”

The new process will allow students to immediately view a record of their transaction and they will receive a confirmation email. The feature was completed on December 6, 2018, and will appear for those who owe an admissions deposit under the “Finances” section of ACORN.

“We wanted to ensure that this feature would be usable by all divisions, and the natural choice was to build it in ACORN,” says David Lock, information systems analyst with Enterprise Applications and Solutions Integration. “It’s important to give students convenient payment options so we can support U of T’s recruitment and admissions efforts.”

Programs use non-refundable deposits, credited against future tuition, to encourage students to make a commitment. Deposits also help enrolment staff plan ahead for incoming classes.

At the moment, 19 graduate units and two professional programs require incoming students to make a deposit as a condition of accepting an offer. In the future, international students in participating first-entry undergraduate programs will be required to pay deposits.

“The School of Graduate Studies has a distributed model, so different units have different business processes and deadlines,” says Josie Lalonde, director of student academic services at the School of Graduate Studies. “It’s important to offer a convenient solution to students, and this will ideally translate into students accepting their offers of admission.”

For the convenience of the service, students pay a 1.75 per cent processing fee to the payment provider, and they continue to have the option to pay by bank draft.

The team at EASI worked closely with Student Accounts, Enrolment Services and the School of Graduate Studies to determine their needs.

“This was a very consultative process. We worked with the team at EASI to come up with a solution that would work for everyone,” says Lalonde. “We were working with an aggressive timeline, and we’re happy with the results.”

The new functionality is expected to be activated by participating divisions in time for the first batch of international acceptances. Admitted students will see the notice upon logging into ACORN.

“We’re excited about offering this new functionality to incoming students, providing a new option for making the deposit that will hopefully bring a little more peace of mind,” says Lock. “Hopefully a more streamlined process for the academic divisions will help them continue to recruit and retain top students from around the world.”