4 minute read

Taking a Student-Friendly Approach to Past-Due Accounts with the University of Alabama

9/5/2023 7:00 PM

On this episode of FOCUS, Kristy Pritchett, Director of Student Account Services at the University of Alabama, joined us to discuss how a student-friendly approach to past-due accounts lead to higher retention rates. The university created their approach out of a need to give additional support to students that were facing financial hardship. Through an integration with TouchNet, the University of Alabama partnered with ECSI RecoverySelect to focus on accounts receivable and past-due accounts, which led to an increase in their retention rates.

The University of Alabama

Founded in 1831, the University of Alabama is a renowned research institution located in Tuscaloosa. The campus is the academic home to more than 38,000 students and on track to continue to increase enrollment. Although the institution is now seeing positive growth trends, student debt and past-due accounts poses a threat to retention. Pritchett and her team knew that helping students stay enrolled was key to securing the institution’s finances.

Finding a solution with ECSI’s RecoverySelect

Like many other institutions seeking a solution to address past-due accounts and student debt, the University of Alabama wanted to maintain a student-centric approach.

“We're really trying to provide a benefit and help that student work through whatever is going on, so that they can get it paid off and continue their education with the university,” says Pritchett.

Rather than punishing students for falling behind on payments with collection agencies and academic holds, the university wanted to help them be in control of their student finances. Enter ECSI's RecoverySelect — a comprehensive solution designed to manage past-due accounts with compassionate customer service.

Key benefits of RecoverySelect

1. Streamlined and standardized processes
Previously, the University of Alabama struggled with monitoring and collecting past-due accounts. Repayment counselors used in excess of 100 letter templates, leading to inconsistencies and a lack of standards in communication. RecoverySelect streamlined these processes, using just five Regulation F compliant letters and phone calls to keep clear and consistent communication with students. Student accounts are managed by ECSI for 120 days before being sent to collections.

2. Integration and compliance
The University of Alabama was already a TouchNet and Ellucian Banner client, simplifying the ECSI integration and enabling the university to stay compliant with ever-changing payment regulations. Data flows seamlessly between systems, providing the most up-to-date information to collection agencies and helping the institution avoid regulatory pitfalls.

3. Staff efficiency
The implementation of RecoverySelect reduced the burden of repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as sending letters and making phone calls, on the university's staff. This allowed the University of Alabama to repurpose staff members for other essential roles, like providing more personalized student support and ensuring optimal resource utilization.

4. Improved reporting
RecoverySelect provides detailed reporting, including a collection agency scorecard. This level of transparency allows the university to measure the effectiveness of their efforts and provide insight into what's working, what needs adjustment, and if tactics need to shift.

5. Positive student feedback
One of the University of Alabama’s priorities was maintaining a positive student experience throughout the debt recovery process. ECSI sends emails to students before their accounts transfer to RecoverySelect, explaining the situation and emphasizing that they aim to help, not punish, students. This has resulted in positive feedback across campus and renewed trust between the institution and its students.

Student-centered results

The University of Alabama has achieved remarkable results with ECSI's RecoverySelect solution. They've seen an approximately 40% resolution rate for accounts that go through the RecoverySelect process, meaning that a significant portion of students have been able to resolve their past-due accounts without entering collections. Moreover, 25% of these students ultimately return to the university, adding to the positive impact on student retention.

A success story

When asked about advice to other institutions, Pritchett emphasizes the importance of entering a trusted partnership to make the student-friendly approach successful. Experts like ECSI know how to streamline processes and stay compliant with evolving regulations, allowing institutions to focus more on supporting students in need.

The University of Alabama's integration with ECSI's RecoverySelect serves as a model for higher education institutions grappling with past-due accounts. By prioritizing student experience, compliance, and efficiency, the University of Alabama found a path to improved retention rates and financial stability.

Click here to learn more about ECSI RecoverySelect.