College costs more now than it ever did. Students are struggling to pay. Schools themselves are struggling with their own resources, which are funneled toward enrollment goals instead of financial aid offices. Some private schools are even discounting tuition in a bid to keep classrooms filled. When it comes to student account recovery, engaging with students is more important than ever.
Turning accounts over to a collection agency can ruin a college’s reputation with students forever. After four years and tens of thousands of dollars spent, a knock on someone’s credit over a relatively small amount of tuition monies hardly seems worth the loss in possible donations down the line. But that doesn’t solve the problem of the past-due account.
Instead of standard collections practices, more schools are turning to a student-focused model that uses technology to make the experience more user-friendly.
Smaller private schools lack the technology to track down students who’ve moved on and changed addresses after graduation. Many don’t have the ability to set up a payment plan that will extract monthly payments from a student’s bank account. If students can’t pay off their tuition and fees all at once, they might just let them languish and even fail to re-enroll the next year. It’s a situation that benefits no one.
Systems like RecoverySelect allow a more detailed, personalized interaction with every student. Because every student’s account gets the same level of attention, accounts both big and small can be resolved, leading to higher recovery rates. This is in stark contrast to the collection agency model, where smaller debt holders may receive just one mailed notice. That’s because agencies like to focus on big accounts, because their goal is never 100 percent recovery.
Sending students into collections means a school is settling for less than they’re owed, but it also means they’re cheating themselves out of potentially profitable interactions going forward. When a student has a bad customer service experience associated with their college, they are 70 percent more likely to transfer and 50 percent less likely to donate as alumni.
If your college is facing similar challenges, consider a new approach.
Lori Carbonara / Warrendale, PA
Lori oversees the products for Heartland ECSI and is focused on bringing the right solutions to the higher education industry. More than just the product expert, Lori is a youth mentor for business students, directing member of the Product Management Group, and is deeply involved in the product management community.