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Best online payment systems for schools

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Last editedAug 20236 min read

Online payment systems for schools - at a glance:

Schools need good ways for parents to pay online. This makes it easier for parents and the school. Online systems let parents pay for school lunches, trips, and supplies. The systems automatically take the money from the parent's bank account or credit card. This means less paperwork and chasing payments for the school. The systems give parents and the school all the payment information they need. Some good online payment systems for schools are GoCardless, Eduspot, Opayo, Parentpay, and iPayimpact. They make it easy for parents to pay and for schools to collect the money they are owed. Using one of these online payment systems helps schools a lot.

With every passing year, digital payments cease to be an optional “nice-to-have” that businesses can use to differentiate themselves from the crowd. Today, they’re a necessity, with customers demanding the reliability and ease of use of digital payment solutions as standard. That’s why it’s crucial for businesses to access a payment gateway that enables customers to pay online securely and seamlessly.

Businesses in the education industry, such as schools, universities, and further education colleges, can benefit enormously from implementing an online payment solution. Accepting a wide range of payment methods enables these types of organisations to give customers the type of experience they expect. Some of the payment methods that your online school payment system should cover include:

  • Credit and debit card payments

  • Bank transfers

  • E-wallets

  • Amazon Pay

  • Apple Pay / Samsung Pay

  • Cryptocurrency

We’ve put together a guide to online payment solutions for schools and universities, giving you the lowdown on the best online school payment systems so that you can make the right choice for your organisation. Read on to learn everything you need about school payment gateways.

Why an online school payment system is important

As we’ve explained, it’s super-important for businesses and institutions in the education space to implement some online payment service for schools. Some of the industry-specific benefits associated with online school payment systems include:

  • Live data on online payments, eliminating confusion

  • Reduced management and archiving costs

  • Complete transparency on payments for parents

  • Elimination of risks associated with paper-based backups

  • Reduction of admin time chasing payments due to automation

  • Improved knowledge management and search capability

  • Ability to process cashless school payments

  • Increased reliability when it comes to access for parents

  • Improved safeguarding for children (some school payment gateways enable parents to upload important information regarding allergies, medical details, and so on)

  • Better document security and control

5 best online payment systems for schools

Now that you have a little more information about why online payment solutions for schools, colleges and universities are so important, let’s explore some of the best school payment gateway options:


GoCardless is an international payment solution designed to empower educational institutions such as schools and universities to automate payment collection and reduce manual admin, enabling these establishments to collect payments from their customers' bank accounts seamlessly.

In essence, GoCardless facilitates automated payment collection. Automated collection reduces late payments, in turn reducing manual admin as there is less need to chase late payers, streamlining the payment process for the institutions and their customers.

Features of GoCardless include:

  • Automated payment collection: GoCardless supports instant, one-off, and recurring payments. This allows for more efficient cash flow management and reduces the administrative burden of manual payment collection.

  • Integration capabilities: With over 350 partner integration that expands functionality and allow organisations to blend GoCardless with their current payment stack.

  • Reduced failed and late payments: Automated payment collection significantly decreases the risk of failed or late payments. This ensures a consistent cash flow and improves overall financial stability.

  • Less manual admin: GoCardless reduces the amount of manual admin involved in payment collection, freeing up staff to focus on more essential tasks.

  • No chasing payments: Automating the payment process means no more chasing payments, no more awkward conversations with parents, and no more manually balancing the books for school finance staff.

  • Improved customer convenience: For customers, the automatic collection system means they don't have to worry about remembering payment due dates, offering a more convenient and worry-free payment experience. 

How to collect Direct Debit payments with GoCardless


Create your free GoCardless account, access your user-friendly payments dashboard & connect your accounting software (if you use one).


Easily set up & schedule Direct Debit payments via payment pages on your website checkout or secure payment links.


From now on you'll get paid on time, every time, as GoCardless automatically collects payment on the scheduled date. Simple.

Get started in minutesLearn more

Automate your payment collection with GoCardless to reduce transaction fees, eliminate failed payments & save time on financial admin.

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Eduspot’s SchoolMoney system provides a trustworthy and secure online payment solution for schools designed to modernise school functions and streamline catering and parental payment processes.

Features include:

  • Online school payments

  • Collecting school arrears

  • School payments reporting

  • Cashless catering

  • Ability to manage school club booking, school dinners, and school trips

  • School app

  • School shop


Opayo offers an online school payment system for schools and universities that can help organisations in the education space transition to becoming cashless.

Features include:

  • Online invoicing

  • Online payments

  • Fraud prevention

  • Integration with a broad range of partners


Parentpay provides a completely cashless school payment gateway that organisations can use to collect payments for meals, clubs, uniforms, trips, and more.

Features include:

  • Financial reporting

  • Ability to manage and collect payments from one place

  • Secure, cashless payments


iPayimpact is a trusted online payment service for schools in the UK that is ideal for use in primary schools, secondary schools, and multi-site organisations (like councils, MATs, caterers, and so on).

Features include:

  • Ability to manage school income (dinners, trips, events, shop, tickets, etc.) online

  • Flexible payment plan

  • High level of security and compliance

Key takeaways

  • Due to customer demand for secure and seamless online transactions, digital payments are necessary for educational institutions, not an optional "nice-to-have" feature.

  • Online payment systems for schools offer multiple benefits, including live data on payments, reduced management and archiving costs, complete payment transparency for parents, reduced admin time, and improved document security and control.

  • Automated payment collection, like that offered by GoCardless, streamlines financial operations, reduces the risk of failed or late payments, decreases the amount of manual admin, and provides greater customer convenience.

  • Schools need a secure, flexible and automated system to collect payments that is convenient for parents and easy to manage for finance staff.

Automate your payment collection with GoCardless to reduce transaction fees, eliminate failed payments & save time on financial admin.

Case study

GoCardless played a primary role in facilitating the scaling up of NHS Open Space, an innovative project of the NHS Property Services in England. The project provides a digital platform for businesses and medical professionals to book rooms in NHS properties, optimising underused spaces and creating a new revenue stream. However, the initial payment system, limited to card payments, posed significant challenges, restricting the project's expansion.

NHS Open Space introduced GoCardless as an additional payment option to alleviate these issues, explained project manager Rod Bull,

It can be a significant change for some organisations to introduce a card payment method... They are more comfortable with using direct bank payments for one-off and regular payments, enabled by GoCardless.

NHS Open Space now collects around 40% of its revenue via direct bank payments, proving a more reliable method with no payment failures.

The implementation and ongoing support from GoCardless have also been crucial, notes Rod,

"We had a great implementation experience with GoCardless" 

He further highlighted their anticipation for the upcoming launch of Variable Recurring Payments, an advancement expected to reduce the payment cycle and expedite the refund process.

GoCardless can provide a convenient, efficient, and reliable online payment system for applying this to schools. It allows parents and guardians to make one-off and regular payments directly from their bank. It reduces administrative burdens on school staff related to card payment issues and provides a system that can adapt to evolving needs and technologies.

Automate your payment collection with GoCardless to reduce transaction fees, eliminate failed payments & save time on financial admin.

We can help

Setting up payment collection is fast and efficient with GoCardless. By automating the payment collection process, GoCardless drastically cuts down the administrative responsibilities of managing and tracking invoices for school finance staff. 

GoCardless makes it quick and easy to get started with no contracts or long-term commitments required. You can set up instant, one-off, or recurring payments in the merchant dashboard in just a few clicks. GoCardless automatically creates and sends all the necessary forms, doing all the heavy lifting for you. You can also connect to GoCardless via over  350 partner apps, such as Xero and Quickbooks.

Discover how GoCardless can automate payment collection, making it easier for school admin and finance staff to manage payments and balance the books.

Automate your payment collection with GoCardless to reduce transaction fees, eliminate failed payments & save time on financial admin.

Frequently asked questions

Which is the best payment gateway for educational institutions? GoCardless stands out as the most optimal payment gateway for educational institutions. It specialises in Direct Debit payments, offering a user-friendly platform seamlessly integrating various educational management systems. This and its low transaction fees are ideal for handling tuition payments, donations, and other school-related financial transactions. GoCardless ensures secure, reliable, and smooth transactions, minimising payment hassles and allowing educational institutions to focus more on their primary goal - delivering quality education. Its robust system is designed to adapt to the unique financial requirements of schools, making it the best online payment system for educational institutions.

Which online payment service is best? Multiple factors should be considered when evaluating the best online payment service for schools. These include ease of use, integration with existing systems, cost-effectiveness, reliability, and security. Stripe and PayPal consistently rank highly among the numerous available services due to their wide acceptance, robust security protocols, and comprehensive transaction management features. Direct Debit services like GoCardless also have great value, especially in the UK and Europe, offering low transaction fees and regular, recurring payments. However, the 'best' service ultimately depends on each school's unique needs and circumstances, considering the balance between user experience, functionality, and cost.

Which payment gateway is best for all countries?

Determining the best payment gateway for all countries primarily depends on flexibility, widespread acceptance, ease of integration, and cost-effectiveness. Considering these factors, PayPal is an excellent choice due to its near-universal recognition, compatibility with multiple currencies, and easy integration into various websites and systems. For schools specifically, its user-friendly interface simplifies transactions for parents and administrative staff. Stripe is another solid choice, mainly known for its robust API and high level of customisability, although its availability is slightly more limited compared to PayPal. However, these platforms may not be ideal for all regions, so it's essential to consider localised options - PayU for Eastern Europe, Alipay for China, or PagSeguro for Brazil, for example - and weigh them against international alternatives based on specific needs.

Over 70,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help
Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

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