Improved tuition schedules, refund policies, and IPEDS reporting

Early in the morning of Friday, August 1, we released a number of upgrades to student billing together with a smattering of  improvements to other areas of Populi. Here's the low-down:

Tuition schedules

We gave tuition schedules some new features and changed how they relate to courses and programs.

  • Tuition brackets now let you combine flat rate and per-unit charges. Say you want to charge full-time students $5000 for 12-18 credits and then additional $295 for each credit over 18—you can now do that with one tuition bracket.
  • Schedules are no longer linked to academic programs, but rather to individual courses. This lets you get real specific with how you charge your students for particular courses.
  • Programs can now have multiple default tuition schedules. So if you have one schedule that charges $500/credit for science courses and another that charges $400/credit for humanities, you can attach both to, say, your Undergraduate Program. Students in the Undergrad program would then get charged according to how many science or humanities courses they enrolled in.

Refunds are altogether better and more usable than they used to be:

  • Refund policies have been separated from tuition schedules; you now add them directly to student accounts, and they directly govern any automatic refunds the student is to receive.
  • Refunds now issue as a simple credit—previously, there was a two-step process involving a full credit and then a new charge for the non-refunded amount.
  • You can now limit how far into the term a student is eligible for a refund.
Other assorted student billing items

New fee rules for course delivery method and term name (e.g., the fee only triggers in the Fall term) give you new options for automating fees.

You can now edit the posted date of a transaction at the time that you add it. So, when you invoice charges, you can change the posted date; or when you run a financial aid batch disbursement, you can change the posted date for those transactions. And so on...


The preset IPEDS reports in Academics > Reporting got a couple of nice upgrades.

  • We added the Financial Aid survey to the IPEDS Winter Collection.
  • We now lets you export IPEDS reports in XML format. This means that you can upload your Populi-generated data directly to NCES—no more copy-pasting of hundreds of rows of numbers from Excel!


Read about all of the week's updates (including bugfixes) in the Release Notes.

Electronic checks

You can now use Populi to accept electronic checks for online payments!

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Electronic checks let you accept online payments straight from the payer's checking account. To pay, just enter a routing number, an amount, and some other basic info—like what you'd find on a paper check—and click Pay Now. It's pretty simple for the payer. On your end, the fees are lower than credit/debit card transactions, and the turnaround time is a fraction of that of paper checks.

To get set up with electronic checks, you'll need to sign up for, an add-on product for payment gateway accounts. If you're already using Populi with for credit card processing, you're most of the way there. Just visit's Merchant Services page and start your application. Once approved, get in touch with Populi Support and let us know you'd like to enable electronic checks.

Read more about setting up Online Bill Pay in the Populi Knowledge Base.

Coming soon: better tuition schedules, refund policies, and more

The Populi development team is hard at work on improvements to student billing. Here's a quick look at what's coming...

Tuition Schedules

We've re-written tuition schedules from the ground up.

  • Tuition brackets will let you combine per-unit and flat-rate charges. For example, you'll be able to set up a bracket that charges a flat amount from 12-16 credits and an additional per-credit charge for everything above 16 credits. This isn't possible with our current tuition schedules, which rigidly enforce a distinction between flat-rate and per-credit brackets.
  • Tuition schedules will no longer be tied directly to academic programs. Rather, they'll be connected to individual catalog courses. When selecting courses, you'll have options to match the schedule to specific courses, a particular department, or a particular program.

7-25-14 New TS

Refund policies

We're separating refund policies from tuition schedules. That will let you:

  • Attach them directly to student accounts, or as a default to individual tuition schedules.
  • Set up one, single policy for your school and be done with it—unlike the current system, which requires you to duplicate the refund policy with every tuition schedule you set up.
  • Better understand how the refund policy affects non-tuition charges like fees.

Most important, refunds will make a lot more sense.

  • Currently, if a student gets an 80% refund on a $1000 tuition bill, Populi 1) credits the student $1000 and 2) then adds a new $200 tuition charge.
  • After the update, it will simply credit the student $800.

7-25-14 Refund policy

A few other things

We're adding new fee rule types for clinical hours and term name (which lets you charge a particular fee every Fall term, for instance).

The new recalculate function will let you instantly update a student's pending charges.

7-25-14 recalc

Getting ready for the release

We're planning to get this out there to our customers by August 1st. If you have any questions about it, please contact Populi Support.

New course and gradebook features

The Populi development team released a heap of highly-requested assignment and gradebook features last night, including:

  • Extra credit assignments
  • Attendance assignments
  • Drop lowest grade options
  • Student feedback on all assignment types
  • Document viewer with annotations on file assignments
  • Improved gradebook navigation
  • New global minimum attendance settings in Academics


New stuff: master change log, logins report, online payments settings, and more

We recently released a number of new reporting items users have been asking for.


First, a master change log: Account Admins can now go to the new Reporting > Changes tab in Account and create detailed reports of just about any change made to any person—including what kind of action it was, when it was made, and who made it.

Next, one tab over from Changes, you'll find the new Logins report, which lets you get login details—everything from username to IP address—for any timeframe you need.

On the Profile's Activity Feed, you can now see admissions-related changes—status changes, application updates, questions, and more:

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 1.17.07 PM

And over in Financial, the new Online Payments tab in Financial > Settings gathers together all the settings you need to get your school going with online payments.


There are also a couple new custom financial statement page layouts, which works just like our other custom layouts (transcript, award letter, etc.). There's an overall statement that you can export from a student's financial dashboard, and a term statement that's available on the student's financial term view. Contact Populi Support if you'd like to get going with either of the new layouts.


New read-only application links

If you haven't already found them, go check out the new read-only application links! They let you share applications with reviewers—without having to print them out.