How to Collect your Balance after a Student has Dropped Out, Part 1.

When a student with a delinquent account drops their enrollment, it becomes much harder for your school to collect their balance. Fortunately, there are some strategies you can follow to work with the student to get your delinquent tuition payments.

Be Friendly, But Tough
You can be empathetic without being a pushover. Students may have legitimate excuses for their financial difficulties. Work with the student to offer a compromise, monthly payment plan, or another arrangement. Show your willingness to work with the student, particularly if they are not a repeat offender.

Write a Letter or Send an Email
If you don’t want to confront your delinquent students over the phone or in person, try mailing them letters or sending them emails as a first approach. Avoid being too demanding, and let the student know he can contact you if there’s an issue. A polite reminder often goes a long way.

Make Sure you have a Delinquent Account Policy in Place
At the beginning of the term, have your students sign a “Good credit and collection policy”. This sort of document outlines the terms of payments, as well as possible repercussions for non-payment. This way you and your students are on the same page, and they know what to expect for missing a payment.

Be Sure your Invoice is Clear
Eliminate any confusion about their balance due. Be sure the invoice is clearly marked “invoice” and includes information such as how to pay, your web address or physical address, a description of the charges, and a phone number to reach your billing office. Be sure to clearly state the amount and date on which the payment is due. One of the best solutions is sending an invoice by email with a direct link to “PAY NOW”.

Make it Easy to Pay
Provide your students with as many payment options as possible. Allow payments to be made online, in person, via mail, and over the phone. Accept credit cards, debit cards and checks, and allow for direct debit from your students’ accounts.

Follow up with Frequent Communication
Send a reminder letter or email several days before the payment is due to avoid potential delinquency. Send another when a payment is a certain number of days past due. You also can make a reminder phone call. Let them know you are serious about receiving the payment. If possible, setup e-invoices with a link to auto pay and reminder emails from your online payment system.

Consider Using Outside Help
If an account is severely late and you have had minimal contact with the student and/or had no willingness to make payments, consider outside help. Options can include an attorney or a collections agency. Offer the student one last chance to settle their account or make a payment before it is turned over to a third party. Delinquent accounts can also be reported to the Credit Bureau. While this will not get you paid, the threat of an adverse mark on their credit score can motivate a student towards paying off their account.

We’ve found these seven steps to be some of the most efficient actions in collecting delinquent tuition balances. Let us know in the comments if you have additional strategies!