Securing Your Cash on Campus

Managing Cash on Campus

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of day-to-day transactions you’re tasked with handling throughout the school year. You’re so involved with running your organization and servicing your students that by the time your employees return to the register, managing your incoming cash flow can often seem like a daunting task.

With colleges and universities adjusting to students coming and going at various times during the year, they must also prepare for the variations of cash flow that come with it. For students returning to campus, this means frequent trips to locations such as nearby bookstores, convenience stores and cafeterias. These on-campus businesses continue to face a high volume of cash transactions and are challenged to efficiently manage their cash flow.

The Rise of Cash Usage

According to the Federal Reserve, there is approximately $1.59 trillion in circulation in the U.S. as of November 2017. Over the past 5 years alone, this amount has increased annually at rate of approximately $92.58 million.

“Demand for currency continues to grow domestically and internationally, reflecting U.S. currency’s
wide-spread use and its essential function as a means of payment and store of value”

– The Cash Product Office, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Organizations across the board, including higher education institutions, can expect this number to climb. For institutions, they must be aware of the latest trends that influence cash usage and how it directly impacts their day-to-day operations including productivity and time spent servicing students. By understanding its means of use, institutions can manage their time more efficiently while safeguarding their profits.

Cash usage is still prevalent in Generation Z

Students currently enrolled in higher education programs fall under the demographic known as Generation Z. According to a recent study from Interactions Marketing, 64% of Gen Z shoppers prefer to use cash as their method of payment vs. credit and debit cards. This demographic also now makes up 25% of the entire U.S. population, making them larger than any other living group. The continued use of cash can present several issues for colleges and universities who are not adequately prepared to manage an ongoing, high volume of currency.

Cash dominates small-value transactions

Data from the Federal Reserve’s 2016 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice shows that most consumer payments are for small value transactions, and cash predominates these purchases. As shown in Figure 1, cash is used most often for payments less than $25, while credit and debit cards are used more frequently for payments valued between $25 and $100. As higher education students are both price-conscious and inclined to pay with cash, they too are making small purchases. With an increasing amount of transactions across campus, organizations must not only be equipped to accept cash as a payment option, but also manage their currency efficiently and securely.

Figure 1 – Payment Use by Transaction Amount, 2016Payment Use By Transaction Amount

Issues with On-Campus Theft

With an increasing amount of currency in circulation and use by students, it is not surprising to see such a high volume of instances of theft on campus. The latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Education reveal the following totals over the course of 2015:

On Campus: 1,191
Non-Campus: 178
Public Property: 1,615
Total: 2,984

Based on the statistics shown, businesses located on campus are subjected to significantly higher rates of robbery when compared to non-campus and public property incidents. As a result, cash management is becoming a focus for colleges and universities for the sake of safeguarding their profits.

Common Issues with Cash Management

1. Lack of security at the point of sale

Cash transactions occur at a variety of points across campus including bookstores, cafeterias, coffee shops and more. These businesses tend to see a larger number of purchases at the beginning of the semester, yet remain consistent throughout the school year. Before, during and after each transaction, each POS system is susceptible to shrinkage as well as internal and external theft.

2. Infrequent cash deposits

Often times, store managers or assigned employees will make frequent trips to the bank to deposit cash, which poses risks of theft or loss. During peak hours, however employees are unable to step away from servicing customers and running their organization. Internal cash collection results in organizations holding cash for longer periods of time, becoming a likely target for burglars.

3. Store operations and visibility

On-campus businesses are often operated by students, who many not have the experience or adequate training to properly handle cash. Many are open 24 hours a day due to the college lifestyle, which means a greater chance of theft or loss associated with mishandling of cash around the clock. Additionally, if a student transports deposits to the bank, managers lose visibility and trust their profits to inexperienced personnel.

Best Practices to Secure Cash on Campus

Colleges and universities continue to search for solutions to effectively manage their cash flow without sacrificing day-to-day operations and time spent servicing customers. Balancing these initiatives with efforts to minimize theft become challenging for institutions who also need to prioritize the safety of their employees and buildings across campus.

Implementing the following best practices can allow you to address these challenges and look out for the best interests of your institution’s cash management operations, students and faculty:

1. Increase security at each point of sale location

As the use of cash continues to rise, automated cash management solutions allow institutions and their on-campus businesses to safeguard their point of sale locations and greatly reduce the risks of theft and loss. For instance, smart safes are placed directly at each point of sale, allowing campus employees to insert cash directly into the safe, where each bill is authenticated, reconciled and monitored. Counterfeit detection plays an important role in preventing additional expenses down the line and helping inexperienced personnel who may not have the ability to recognize counterfeit bills.

2. Minimize the amount of time cash is spent in your register or smart safe

Cash stored in registers or smart safes for long periods of time are increasingly susceptible to theft – internal theft by employees pocketing currency believing it will go unnoticed as well as external theft associated with frequent trips to the bank. Leveraging an armored service carrier to cut down on the amount of time cash is on hand, transport deposits to a bank or nearby cash vault, and fulfill change orders greatly reduces the risks of theft and loss. Armored services also increase efficiency by servicing all locations on campus, eliminating the risk of moving cash from building to building before the lump sum is deposited.

3. Maximize visibility of your cash logistics, 24/7

When organizations leverage automated cash management services, they also have the ability to increase visibility of their cash logistics. Effective cash management technologies allow colleges and universities to monitor activity across all campus locations, track deposits to the bank, and easily reconcile any discrepancies. Additionally, detailed and accurate reports are available 24/7 in real-time including locational cash activity, outsourced processing information and web invoicing.


While colleges and universities vary in how they choose to protect their cash, the threats they face are similar in nature
Overcome these 3 threats to secure your cash on campus