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:
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.
You can now use Populi to accept electronic checks for online payments!
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 eCheck.net, an add-on product for Authorize.net payment gateway accounts. If you’re already using Populi with Authorize.net for credit card processing, you’re most of the way there. Just visit Authorize.net’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.
The Populi development team is hard at work on improvements to student billing. Here’s a quick look at what’s coming…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
We’ll be going into greater detail on all of these new features in the coming days, but for now, here’s a video covering five of our favorites. Enjoy!
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:
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.
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.
From Free Press’ Save The Internet site:
On Jan. 14, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order.
And now, the FCC is proposing rules that would kill — rather than protect — Net Neutrality and allow rampant discrimination online.
What is net neutrality anyway? And why should you care? One of my favorite YouTubers, CGP Grey, does a great job explaining not just what net neutrality is, but why we must defend it.
So what difference can we make? The White House has already responded to this petition asking for a restoration of net neutrality, and while this is a good start it doesn’t actually get us any closer to the goal of preserving a free and open internet.
Save The Internet has a number of ideas about how we the people can keep the pressure on the FCC to do the right thing. On behalf of Populi, I encourage you to check out the list and take action to defend net neutrality.
On Monday, April 7, security researchers published information about a bug in the OpenSSL cryptographic software library. OpenSSL powers the encryption used to secure the internet—everything from websites to instant messaging to virtual private networks. The bug, called Heartbleed, could affect about 2/3 of encrypted internet traffic.
As of now, all Populi servers have been patched against this vulnerability, and we have no reason to believe that any of our clients’ data was compromised. Due to the critical nature of this issue, we performed the patching during business hours today—rather than after hours as we normally do—so our apologies to anyone who was affected! We’ll continue to monitor the situation and post further updates if necessary.
To the best of our knowledge, Populi has been locked-down against this bug and all data is secure.
Do you remember where you were on June 18th, 2013? The last time we went and upped everyone’s free file storage limit? We remember where we were: that day, we were upping your free file storage limit. This is kind of like that, except we’re not even waiting for the summer to . . .
. . . give everyone even more free file storage.
Every plan has already received more for the same—which is for free. It happened and you didn’t even notice!
Are you on the so-called small plan? Where you used to get a measly 50 gigs of free storage? Now you get 100 gigs of free storage.
The medium plan? Been wishing you had more than 100 gigs of free file storage? You’ve been gazing wistfully at the large plan’s 200 gigs? Now it’s yours. 200 gigs of free storage.
The large plan. You had 200 gigs of free file storage. Pretty good. What would be great? 500 gigs would be great, right? And that’s what you get. 500 gigs of free storage.
Our Plan Pricing remains the same. So all those extra gigs-per-month really are free.
Enjoy it. Use it. You’ll have even more room to store and deliver your video and audio lectures and materials. Start uploading dumb stuff—like daily videos of your coffee cooling, accompanied by in-depth commentary—just because you can.
This applies to all of our current customers and anyone else who has yet to jump aboard with Populi. That extra file storage is yours to use right now!
Here are some other noteworthy items we’ve released over the past couple months…
Tests can now have open-ended test availability dates. Choose from Available from (which gives you the usual date range), Available after or until, and Always available, which keeps the test open for the entire duration of the course. This makes things much simpler for our customers who run open-enrollment courses.
You now have the option, when entering a new Inquiry, whether to email the comment to the student or keep it private. That, and the comment itself is now optional!
Miscellaneous Admissions updates
Active Leads now get the Active Lead system tag. This makes it much simpler to, for example, include them in a Mailing List.
When you accept an application, you can now add the Lead as a new user at the same time.