How to Collect your Balance when a Student is Still Enrolled, Part 2.

All too often schools deal with students who have fallen behind on their tuition payments. When a student is still enrolled, it is in the school’s best interest to maintain a positive relationship with the student. Your school wants to continue to provide the student with an education. You can show the student you are willing to work with them to receive payment.

Ensure That you Were Upfront About Your Delinquent Policy
Clear communication is key. Make sure your students are on the same page as you regarding payment expectations. Were payment deadlines clearly stated? Was the bill or payment reminder sent as the due date approached? Were the repercussions of missing payments clear – including terms of payment and possible late fees? If your office cannot answer yes to these questions, this can lead to more delinquencies in the future.

Follow up on Late Payments Right Away
Follow up the day after a missed payment. This lets the student know you are serious about promptly collecting the payment owed. This could look like sending an email with an overdue payment notification, then following up with a phone call the next day to check up on the status of the payment. If the bill is only a couple days past due, assume it was an honest mistake on the student’s part. It’s possible your invoice slipped through the cracks or a family emergency came up. Sometimes a polite reminder is all it takes to get paid.

Be Friendly, But Firm
Students may make an excuse for their late payment, such as a financial difficulty. Work with the student to offer some sort of compromise, payment plan, or other arrangement. Always be professional and courteous. In general, people are much more willing to work with someone who is empathetic, rather than rude or threatening.

Be Personal
Understand where the student is coming from. Is the late payment due to housing? What classes do they have at stake? What’s their end goal? Do they have extenuating circumstances? Connecting on a personal level and showing empathy goes a long way.

Offer Payment Options
Work with the student to find out what works best for them. Can they move to a different payment plan in order to continue classes? Offer the option to pay online by credit card, debit card, or by linking their bank account. A payment plan with automatic scheduled payments can be another good option.

Escalate Repercussions
If the student still has not paid or worked with the financial office to find a payment solution by a set date, consider escalating repercussions and reminders. This could look like freezing a student’s account, halting classes or withholding transcripts.

With these steps, your school office can better reach out to students with delinquent accounts and receive prompt payment.