Electronic billing more cost-efficient, sustainable

After approximately 15 months of planning, Portland State will replace its former paper-based billing system with an electronic one next month.

After approximately 15 months of planning, Portland State will replace its former paper-based billing system with an electronic one next month.

Eric Blumenthal, director of PSU Business Affairs, said students will still be able to pay online via Banweb. However, under the new system, students will receive an e-mail notification that their bill is ready. Once available, students can follow a link to the Luminis portal, located on www.my.pdx.edu, where they can download their bill as a PDF file.

Blumenthal said that the primary motivation for the shift to electronic billing was to save costs. 

“We’re really in a budget-reduction mode,” he said. “[With electronic billing] we don’t have to print the bills, we don’t have to pay the postage.”

In order to implement the system, Business Affairs only had to pay the Internet technology staff, as well as purchase the product, Evisions, which is used to create the electronic bills. The one-time cost totaled $50,000, Blumenthal said.

Business Affairs expects the new billing system to save the university $120,000 annually, according to Angela Bostock, assistant director of Business Affairs.

In addition, Blumenthal said the system will respect the “sustainability efforts on campus.” 

Over 28,000 students attend PSU, and every term each student receives a paper bill in the mail. By replacing the current system with electronic billing, Business Affairs will conserve a substantial amount of paper, as well as eliminate the environmental impact of physical delivery. 

According to Blumenthal, Business Affairs is hoping to have the new system fully implemented on May 15, the first day of the next billing cycle.

Business Affairs has chosen to implement it in May in order to make the transition sooner.

“By [May] most of the spring term students should have paid their bills,” Blumenthal said.

He said the new electronic billing system has “been one of the strategic initiatives for three or four years,” and has been in the making well before he or Bostock assumed the positions they currently hold at PSU.

The system was not implemented sooner because students were not required to have pdx.edu e-mail addresses until October 2009, Blumenthal said.

However, now that every PSU student must have a school e-mail account, Business Affairs will send out an e-mail informing students that their statements are ready for viewing, he said.

According to Bostock, “It’ll be easier to get your statement” because students can follow a link rather than maneuver through Banweb.

In addition, students will not need to wait for a paper bill to come through the mail because students, parents and businesses can view it online as soon as it is available, she said.

According to Bostock, the new bill format should also be easier to read. The classes in which a student is enrolled will appear at the top, and charges and credits will appear below, in two separate columns.

“Its really better for parents and students,” Blumenthal said.