Why Going Paperless in Schools Only Works if You Go Cashless

a hand holding a pen and paper.

Breaking away from the dreaded paper trail is a goal among many schools, and for good reason: digital creates less waste, there’s less margin for error, and it takes up less space. But is going paperless in schools really achievable? Not unless you also go cashless.

Why Schools Struggle to Go Paperless

Paperless schools are seen as the “schools of the future.” The real question is: How far into the future will this become a reality?

Already, schools have replaced many of their paper-based systems with technology, from taking attendance to registering for classes and even digital report cards. Digital textbooks are growing in popularity to replace heavy physical counterparts that take up a significant amount of space.

But one area that prevents schools from going completely paperless is the way in which they handle money. When cash is involved, there’s always some sort of paper trail that follows.

For example, when a student brings in field trip money, it usually comes with a note or permission form. This ensures teachers know what the money is for and who it belongs to. There’s also the matter of filling out a paper deposit form to transfer the cash into the school’s bank account.

Or how about the students that pay for lunches with cash? While many schools allow parents to load a student’s lunch account online, a lack of internet access may prevent some families from doing this. Students taking cash into the lunch line is still a coming (though dwindling) practice and accompanies the need for paper.

Because schools must cater to all students, regardless of things like internet access or the ability to purchase technology, they will continue to be out of reach of paperless goals until they can also become cashless.

How to Address the Paperless Future in Schools

While going cashless won’t completely solve the paperless dilemma, it can remove a significant barrier to entry.

When you eliminate cash, you’re also getting rid of the paper-based processes that come with tracking and depositing it. Because cash doesn’t have inherent traceability, paper plays a role in assigning ownership to it and tracking its progress to the school’s bank account. All of this paper and the time it takes to document your cash can become things of the past.

It all starts with bringing the right technology on board and taking a paperless-first approach. Tools like the Paywat app give parents a paperless way to pay for field trips, lunches, and other expenses, along with other workflows like parent/teacher communication or signing forms.

Going paperless isn’t just about eliminating the paper itself, but also the complexities that come with managing it. This puts documentation into the hands of users rather than administrative staff to ensure clarity and visibility across the board.

Bottom line: the paperless school is the future of education. Just how quickly it becomes the present depends on the actions you take today.

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