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HOW THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA TOOK CONTROL OF PAST-DUE ACCOUNT PROCESSES TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE

In the highly regulated and litigious world of collections, institutions need tight control of their past-due account recovery process - particularly regarding communications and outreach to students with past-due balances. With an annual enrollment of more than 39,000 students and growing, The University of Alabama understood it could have faced stiff penalties for any regulatory noncompliance. To establish more institutional controls over their past-due processes, they turned to ECSI. RecoverySelect not only standardized the University's processes but also provided better insight into the effectiveness of its efforts. With better data, student services leadership created and improved processes to help students with past-due balances stay enrolled while increasing their resolution rate.

 

SIMPLIFYING THE OUTREACH PROCESS

When Kristy Pritchett joined the University of Alabama as director of student account services, she was surprised to find that over time, repayment counselors had created numerous versions of outreach letters to communicate with students with past-due balances over time. The lack of standard templates led to inconsistencies and created unnecessary risk for the University.

"Handling the collections process improperly can come with penalties in the millions of dollars. You can't afford to make that kind of mistake," said Pritchett. "Having a teammate who is an expert in the regulations, specifically tailored to higher education, is key."

Due to the potential risk, Pritchett found little resistance from campus leaders when recommending a solution such as RecoverySelect. Because The University of Alabama was already a TouchNet Bill+Payment and Ellucian Banner client, the integration process with ECSI was simplified. Data flows between the systems, providing the most up-to-date information and helping the institution avoid regulatory pitfalls.

Now, the University uses just five Regulation F-complaint letters and five standardized phone call scripts that provide clear and consistent information to students. Past-due accounts are managed by ECSI for 120 days before being sent to collection agencies.

A Quick look at the University of Alabama

Largest public university
in the state

Established in 1831
in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
39,000+ students (undergraduate and graduate)

12 colleges and
190+ degree programs

ADMINISTRATORS GAINED INSIGHTS IN ADDITION TO CONTROL

After RecoverySelect solved Pritchett's immediate need to have oversight of what letters were sent, what calls were made, and what information was communicated to students - she used the detailed reporting functionality to gauge the effectiveness of the improved processes.

The University has especially appreciated the collection agency scorecard, which pulls in data from various sources for a consolidated comparison of how collection partners are performing. Previously, this was a manual and labor-intensive job. Now, Pritchett can repurpose staff for more important tasks - like offering more personalized student support.

"By going with a provider/solution like ECSI, you're going to get a more streamlined, automated approach. Your staff can focus more on the things they really need to focus on and find interesting;' said Pritchett. "They' re not going to have to deal with those monotonous tasks like sending letters or making phone calls because ECSI does all of that."

“By going with a provider/solution like ECSI, you're going to get a more streamlined, automated approach. Your staff can focus more on the things they really need to focus on and find interesting," said Pritchett. "They' re not going to have to deal with those monotonous tasks like sending letters or making phone calls because ECSI does all of that.”

WHAT WAS BEST FOR THE UNIVERSITY ALSO PROVED BEST FOR STUDENTS

Since implementing RecoverySelect, The University of Alabama has increased its past-due account resolution rate to 48 percent. In the spring and summer 2022 semesters, they resolved nearly $400,000 in past-due balances. Pritchett estimates that the RecoverySelect process also helped nearly 200 students re-enroll for the fall 2022 semester, translating to $3 million in tuition revenue that the University might otherwise have lost.

For The University of Alabama, it's not all about the numbers. One of the University's priorities is maintaining a positive student experience throughout the recovery process.

"We're really trying to provide a benefit and help students work through whatever is going on so that they can get their balance paid off and continue their education;' Pritchett said. "We require a partner that understands what's happening in the industry and can help improve a school's processes. For us, ECIS has been student-focused, and they work to help our students resolve their past-due accounts."