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aspire cash

Aspire Cash – JS Group partners with NatWest Group to redefine how cash bursaries and other awards are delivered to students

JS Group and NatWest Group have developed Aspire Cash as a more effective and efficient way to deliver bursaries and cash awards that allows universities to:

  • Provide a better student experience
  • Reduce administrative workload and costs
  • Deliver cost savings
  • Gain better insights into how cash is used and the impact of cash bursaries

Bringing together NatWest’s award winning Payit open banking technology and JS Group’s Aspire Technology Platform that already supports university funding for over 250,000 UK students, Aspire Cash has been designed as the simplest, quickest and most cost-effective way of getting funds to students.

Aspire Cash has been designed to deliver specific benefits and address common issues experienced with the management of cash awards.

Providing students choice and a digital experience

  • Using their smartphone or any connected device, students receive their funds to the account of their choice anytime, anywhere using a secure, two-stage authentication process.
  • As students select the bank account the funds go to, there is no risk of funding an overdrawn account.
  • Being able to withdraw funds in tranches encourages budgeting skills and avoids the issues seen with lump sum payments.
  • When withdrawing their funds, students go to a Student Engagement Portal where, alongside details of their account and balance, they will find a range of free resources including advice on financial planning and budgeting.

Not having to collect student bank details

  • With Aspire Cash, no student bank details need to be collected or verified – ever.
  • The University either provides details of the students who are to receive an award and the level of their funds to JS Group and we will set up the student account and let them know how to access their funds.This can be done either by automated data feed or the university can use the Aspire University self-service Portal.
  • As bank details are not collected or stored, Aspire Cash also removes GDPR compliance concerns.

Getting cash to students quickly

  • If a student is already in the Aspire system it takes up to 20 minutes to get funds to their account (often less) and if they are not in the system it takes 30 minutes.
  • No need to try to find petty cash or vouchers or wait for the next payment runto get funds to students.

Understanding how students intend to use their funds

  • Uniquely with Aspire Cash, when students withdraw their funds they indicate the intended use from a drop down menu.
  • This allows analytics back to the university, which can support with OfSreporting

Fund graph

Reducing the total cost of cash awards

As well as reducing administrative workload and costs, there is a cash saving from implementing Aspire Cash

  • As funds are able to be withdrawn as required,, should a student withdraw then any remaining funds can be reclaimed
  • Any orphaned funds, typically 5%, at the end of the student lifecycle can be recovered

Cash graph

These unspent funds can be repurposed by the university for other uses such as hardship.

Aspire Cash supports all types of awards – criteria-based awards such as bursaries for students from lower income backgrounds, application-based awards such as digital access funds and ad hoc awards such as hardship payments.

During 2021/22, Aspire Cash was trialled at the University of Sunderland with positive feedback from students and the university:

“We have been using Aspire Cash this year and the feedback from students and staff has been very positive. The service is straightforward for students to use and the university to operate, and it is great to have data and insights into how students are using their funds.”
Kirsten Black, Director, Student Journey, University of Sunderland.

“We really like that Aspire Cash gives our students such a great experience. Using Payit technology, we know that students can access their funds 24/7 when they are needed and they do not need to provide us with their bank details. We also like the fact that any unused funds can be repurposed within the university.”
Ben Dale, Director of Finance, University of Sunderland.

To learn more about how Aspire Cash could help with the management and distribution of bursaries and other cash awards, please contact:

Julie Walkling
Director of Academic Partnerships