Overhauling Payment Processes

Discover how The First Academy saves nearly $90K a year by accepting online payments using Formstack Forms and Authorize.Net.

Over the last seven years, Tim Nethers has built hundreds of Formstack forms for The First Academy. As the Assistant Creative Director, Nethers is at the helm of the school’s marketing, branding, web development, and advertising. But he has also played a big role in how the school collects and manages data. His strategic use of Formstack has helped The First Academy transform processes across the school, from event registrations to accepting online payments.


It all began in 2010, when The First Academy was looking to eliminate paper forms. Many of their processes were paper-based, which led to inaccurate data collection, inefficient work, lots of manual labor, and even major financial loss.

They were also looking for a way to quickly, easily, and securely accept payments online. At the time, all payments were made through paper forms and manual payment methods. This meant that parents had to go through the inconvenience of rummaging for their checkbook or stopping by an ATM anytime their child had a payment due to the school.

This inefficient payment process also equated to a lot of financial loss for the school due to poor tracking and lost payments. “It just wasn’t very effective or immediate,” Nethers shared. The inability to accept online payments created a vast amount of manual data entry for the team, pushing other priorities to the backburner as they processed hundreds of thousands of dollars manually.


When investigating ways to go paper free, The First Academy looked at Formstack competitors but ran into issues. Other tools either didn’t offer the robust features they needed, like Credit Card fields and payment processor integrations, or were too complicated. The team at The First Academy needed something that would be simple to use without requiring technical knowledge or the ability to code.

According to Nethers, the school first came to Formstack due to ease of use. Formstack gave the employees a simple and fast way to get their paper forms transferred to digital ones without needing to harass the IT team.

The school now uses around 300 forms, which span nearly every department, including admissions, advancement, operations, facilities, marketing, human resources, and IT. Formstack’s wide array of integrations are crucial to The First Academy forms, especially when it comes to accepting online payments.

Authorize.Net was the biggest feature early on. We were doing a lot of paper and checks before, and it definitely changed our game. Now everything goes through a Formstack on our campus,” Nethers explained.

The school processes payments for everything from field trips and equipment fees to after school care and athletics. Each year, their online forms process more than $100,000 using the Authorize.Net integration.


The ability to collect data and payments quickly, easily, and securely has saved The First Academy incredible amounts of time and money while boosting their workplace productivity.

By adding online payments to their digital forms, The First Academy has saved hundreds of hours in the collections department and drastically reduced the amount of money they have to chase down. The collections team has seen a major reduction in financial loss, all thanks to improving their payment processes and ditching paper forms.

“The collections team would not be able to do their job if we could not run our Formstacks with Authorize.Net,” Nethers stated. “We would need to have an entire additional accounts receivable and a second accounts payable person.” Nethers estimates those additional workers would cost at least $60,000 per year.

The impact of Formstack goes way beyond the payments department. The ability to create forms to fit any needs that parents, students, teachers, or administration may have has also taken a massive amount of pressure off the school’s operations team.

“If we had to call everybody and deal with all the incoming calls that are avoided thanks to forms and admissions registrations, we’d need an entire extra person per week. We cut down on the administration costs of at least one receptionist, if not multiple.” That equates to another $30,000 in savings, equaling a grand total of around $90,000.

“We’ve had upwards of 300 forms running at the same time,” Nethers stated. “Formstack has been integrated into every facet of our school.”

Some other key workflows they’ve streamlined using Formstack include:

  • Teacher onboarding
  • Student onboarding
  • End-of-year checklists
  • Advertisement tracking
  • Event registration

Nethers is still finding ways to put Formstack to work at The First Academy to streamline workflows and data management.

“You guys have always been, in some form or another, innovative and leading in the form industry,” Nethers shared. “You continue to innovate and make good things.”

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Cut costs

Saved nearly $90,000 in annual expenses

Streamlined processes

Implemented six key workflows across the org

Improved payment systems

Processed more than $100,000 in online payments

Condensed tech stack

All departments are able to create workflows with a single tool

Video Transcript

The First Academy is a Christ-centered preparatory school located in Orlando, Florida. The school enrolls around 1,400 students annually in preschool through 12th grade.
Online Payments