How Seattle University automated past-due account processes and reduced staff workloads

Prior to 2023, Seattle University’s past-due accounts process was mostly manual and completely in-house. Recovery specialists did not start reaching out to students until after a term had ended.

Recognizing that the institution was chasing balances from the prior term and missing opportunities to keep students enrolled, Associate Director of Student Accounts, Sean Drew, sought a way to modernize the university’s recovery process.

That’s when the 7,500-student institution turned to ECSI’s RecoverySelect. By using RecoverySelect, today, Seattle University is able to automate processes, increase outreach, and reduce staff workloads to better serve their students.


Largest independent university in the Northwest

7,500 students
8 colleges, 65 undergraduate programs, 31 graduate programs, and 27 certificate programs

When it comes to debt, timing is everything

The probability of recovering debt reduces significantly over time – from nearly 94 percent in the first month to only 14 percent if the debt carries for more than two years (Commercial Law League of America). Because Seattle University waited until the term ended to pursue past-due balances, their resolution rates weren’t as strong as they could have been with earlier outreach. By the time Seattle University's in-house team could reach out to students with past-due balances, it was often too late to get students back on track.

In addition, the delayed timing created missed opportunities to engage students with alternate outreach methods, flexible payment plans, and the possibility of extending additional financial aid.

Drew sought a solution that would allow his staff to proactively focus on current term accounts, while still managing and resolving those that were past-due.

ECSI’s RecoverySelect shifts Seattle University’s schedule forward and focuses outreach activities within a 90-day window after the add/drop period, producing resolution rates six times higher than those after a student has left school.

“Using RecoverySelect has allowed us to move our entire accounts receivable process forward about three months,” Drew said. “That allows us to focus our time on A/R within the current term to proactively resolve accounts and keep students enrolled.”

“We care about our students and want to provide as many opportunities as possible for them to stay enrolled.”

Increasing outreach, decreasing workload

Seattle University’s reliance on manual processes didn’t just affect the timeliness of outreach, but also a wide range of other essential functions related to recovery.

“Our recovery specialists were overworked trying to keep up with the volume of accounts receivable combined with other manual tasks, including collection placement and payments and in-house repayment agreements,” Drew said. “We could barely manage one or two phone calls per account before we had to start the process over for the next term’s batch of A/R.”

After implementing RecoverySelect, the university’s efforts increased to at least five letters/emails and four phone calls per account – all handled by ECSI within the critical 120 days after default. This consistent, automated outreach process allowed Drew’s team to focus on their core responsibilities.

With RecoverySelect, collections account placements for Seattle University are automated and timely. Payments that were once manually entered are now received by ECSI, easily tracked, and automatically posted in the student information system.

Easy implementation with integrated support

The implementation process went smoothly with minimal impact on university staff. Seattle University had RecoverySelect up and running within three months of making the decision to use it.

“Since RecoverySelect works through our existing integration via TouchNet Bill+Payment to Ellucian Colleague, deploying it was very easy,” said Drew. “Having this system integrated makes these processes intuitive and simple to use. All I need to do is code an account in Colleague and ECSI pulls in their data and starts the outreach, payment plans, or eventually collection placement if needed.”

Prior to implementing RecoverySelect, Seattle University created custom repayment agreements for students. These types of custom arrangements and non-standardized processes can open an institution and its students to legal consequences. Now the payment plans offered to students are handled by ECSI and adhere to all regulatory mandates.

Supporting students now and in the future

It's not just Drew’s team benefitting from RecoverySelect, either. By resolving past-due balances in a timely manner, the university not only increased its resolution rate, but is on track to see increased student retention.

“For the accounts still outstanding after a term ends, the higher volume of outreach and simple repayment plan options offered through RecoverySelect helps many more students avoid sliding into collections,” said Drew. “We care about our students and want to provide as many opportunities as possible for them to stay enrolled.”

Institutions that have implemented RecoverySelect have seen student retention increase by more than 25%. With its new, consistent process and recouped staff bandwidth, Seattle looks forward to keeping more students out of collections and in the classroom.