Quick back story: My company has a web-based application that college-age students will complete (similar to the FASFAA) that helps them get awards, grants, scholarship aid from the schools they apply to. So, student and/or parent submits app to college, college admin looks over the app (which gives a very accurate and detailed financial picture of student/parent) and assesses student's need. The school admin will award financial aid to student. The point of the app is so that schools see a more complete picture of their students and award equatable aid (versus the FASFAA, for example.)
The problem: the application is very long and detailed (think filling out your taxes). There's a one time fee of $28 for new users to submit and $16 for returning users. Most users fill it out completely and submit. Others do not for whatever reason - too long, got accepted to another school that doesn't accept the application, gave up, etc.
Management people at my company want the payment process moved up to the beginning of the application, so even if someone starts but does not finish the application, we still get paid. In other words: person logs in, completes app, pays, submits. Management wants it this way: person logs in, pays, completes app, submits.
My question: I can't imagine making someone pay up front for something then filling out an application is any king of good UX nor can it be good for conversions (submissions). Especially if you don't give the person an incentive to complete it or set his/her expectation on why it is like this. What are your thoughts on the proposal of the management at my company. Have you seen that before? We planned on a usability test to try this out and collect some data - hopefully to push back in our favor. Can anyone give me research or point me in the direction as to why this should/shouldn't be okay to do?