The Self-Pay Model: How to Reduce the Cost of Background Screening Students and Volunteers

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

August 8 2023

Allowing the wrong people to enter your organization comes with risks – fraud, embezzlement, cyber crime, reputational damage, costly lawsuits are just a few on the list. Unfortunately, faulty recruiting is only getting riskier as technology advances, media grows in prevalence, and internal crime becomes more sophisticated. That’s why every person who enters or represents your organization in any way must be thoroughly vetted by a professional background screening company. (Yes, we mean everyone.) Worried about how much that will cost? Here’s the good news: there are self-pay background check models that allow your organization to mitigate risk without breaking the bank.

How a Self-Pay Background Check Works

A self-pay background check is one that is paid for by the applicant (or volunteer, member, etc.) rather than the company. This allows organizations that are background screening under unique circumstances to mitigate risk without absorbing unreasonable costs. The ideal type of person to charge for their own background check varies. Regardless of who you background screen via the self-pay model, the applicant…

Receives a unique invitation with the right services built-in


Submits personal identifying information


Submits payment

After the applicant submits their information and payment, an ideal background screening vendor will process the background check and return actionable results, usually within just a couple of days. If students or candidates need to dispute any results, they will have applicant advocates to reach out to who will guide them through the next steps. 

Additionally, your background check provider should offer guidance, expertise, and stellar client support. This will help your organization pick the right services and screening programs for each individual you manage. It also keeps things organized, ensuring the right person pays for each background check, whether it’s your organization or an applicant.

Who Does the Self-Pay Model Work For?

The self-pay model is not ideal for everyone you background screen. Here are the most common types of people you should or shouldn’t charge for background checks.


College Students

The self-pay model is an excellent option when background screening interns, clinical students, or Greek organization members. College students typically have a different array of information to background check for than job applicants, so search for a screening vendor who offers programs and services tailored to medical students or PNMs at your Greek Letter Organization.


Vendors & Temporary Workers

Vendors, contractors, and other temporary workers are unique since they do not technically work for your organization but still represent your brand. It’s best to look for a background screening vendor who offers a vendor screening program with a candidate self-pay option to account for this.



Most nonprofits and volunteer organizations’ time and resources are precious. They may be frustrated by this common predicament: being unable to afford background checks, while also being unable to afford the risks that come with bypassing screening. Having the option to charge volunteers a minimal background check fee is the simplest solution.


Part-Time or Full-Time Job Applicants

It is not advisable to charge candidates for pre-employment background checks. In some states, it’s even illegal. However, it is possible to find high-quality background screening vendors who also offer affordable solutions. Businesses of any size and industry simply cannot afford not to screen, so looking for a flexible and qualified background check company is crucial.

Why You Should Use the Self-Pay Model When Background Screening

When background screening people like students, vendors, and volunteers, consider finding a solution with a self-pay option. This will help your organization background check within budget by allocating a fee to the applicant. Self-pay background checks are typically affordable for applicants, so there’s no need to worry about scaring people away. 

Plus, seeing self-pay as an option for these people is a strong indicator that this company has specialized screening programs to fit your organization’s needs. If you work with a background screening vendor who treats these unique recruitment processes as any other pre-employment background check, it may lead to overspending, unnecessary searches, and even compliance issues. Saving where you can on background checks and choosing the right vendor eases the stress of onboarding, allowing you to focus on what matters most to your organization.

Applicant Self-Pay Background Checks Made Easy

Some organizations have all different kinds of people to manage. That’s why we provide highly customizable background screening solutions and aim to make things as simple as possible. After over 30 years in the background screening industry, InfoMart has gotten plenty of firsthand experience with all the subtle nuances that go into quality background checks. 

Using all that we have learned along the way, we have built customizable and specialized solutions for clinical programs, Greek letter organizations, vendor screening programs, and more. No matter who your organization is screening, we guarantee quick and actionable results, a user-friendly experience, and outstanding customer service. That’s what we call The InfoMart Difference.

Do you have questions or want to learn more about what our background checks would look like at your organization? We would love to chat! Email us or request a quote to get in touch.

I would love to hear from you and connect; add me on LinkedIn!

About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record.

About InfoMart

InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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