Faster Financial Aid: 3 Ways to Ensure a Smoother Application Process for Students

For the millions of American families banking on financial aid to send kids to college, applying for funds early can mean the difference between getting a hefty payout — or getting nothing at all. In the age of tech, high school counselors and registrars in school districts and institutions across the country have a unique opportunity to educate these families on simple, actionable steps to increase success in applying for and securing financial aid, without the hassle.

The High Cost of College

The stakes are high. Today’s tuition ranges from $31,231 for private, four-year institutions to $9,139 for state schools and $22,958 for out-of-state residents attending public universities, the College Board reports.1 Such huge sums may be out of reach for the average American family earning the U.S. median of $52,250 in annual household income.2

To their credit, institutions and agencies are well aware of the gap and disperse an estimated $150 billion annually3 to help families cover tuition, which has increased by roughly 15 percent since 2008. Families and students will naturally gravitate towards (and recommend) administrators and counselors who can help with claiming an outsized portion of those funds.

Federal aid, in particular, often goes to those who file early, which is why Edvisors says4 students shouldn’t wait to file financial disclosure forms.

Ready … Set … Prepare!

To be clear, this doesn’t mean you should be advising high school freshman to start haphazardly applying for scholarships. Why? While college admissions staff may have good reason to get students committing early, counselors should remind students that Universities encourage early applicants because they limit their bargaining power (ability to negotiate with the financial aid office to get a better financial aid package) by committing before they have to. By contrast, students who get acceptances from multiple universities can generally negotiate better aid packages.

Counselors can help aid-seeking families by reviewing the options and highlighting the deadlines. As a refresher, here are three things you’ll want to have in hand when helping students in their search for college cash:

  1.  Applications for relevant scholarships. While it’s generally too early for a freshman or sophomore to apply for merit aid, it can be a good idea to work with students to search for scholarships you’ll want to apply for later. FastWeb has a free search engine that scours some 15 million awards and matches your student’s profile to the best sources for funding.
  2.  Fill out the FAFSA. Also known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, this standard form is widely used for determining eligibility for needs-based awards such as Pell Grants or the Federal Supplement Educational Opportunity Grant, or FSEOG. High school seniors need to keep a close eye on the filing deadlines since some states begin accepting FAFSA applications in January. Others wait until March, but in every case those seniors who file early do better. According to Edvisors, students who file the FAFSA in March or before tend to get more than twice as much grant funding as those who wait until April or later.
  3.   Get your transcript ready. Whether you’re talking about college admissions offices or private foundations, most awarding institutions are going to need to review your records before giving aid. Parchment’s portal is particularly useful in this regard because counselors and students can access transcripts that are constantly updated in real-time and accessible from any browser. Ask your registrar or records officer if digital transcripts are available to you. And if not, why?

With college costs rising fast, the competition for scholarship money and federal and state aid has never been fiercer for students. Ensure your students are ready to act by educating them on the tools available to get ahead of the game, track deadlines and be ready to act with a prepared transcript. The faster they move, the more likely they’ll be to cash in – and they’ll have you to thank!

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Demand Surges for 4th Annual Parchment User Conference

In 2013, Parchment hosted its first ever User Conference, bringing together nearly 30 high school and college members to talk about their service experience and share ideas. Fast forward to February 2016 where 200 Parchment members celebrated the tremendous growth of the Parchment Member Community at the Fourth Annual Parchment User Conference in Washington DC. We continue to be thrilled as the community of schools embrace one another, share best practices and work together to create stronger outcomes for students.

The 2016 Parchment User Conference proved just how meaningful peer-led conversations are to schools interested in innovation. In 2014, Loma Linda University attended the Parchment User Conference and heard from Elon University Registrar Rodney Parks about his pioneering foray into experiential transcripts. Fast forward to 2016 and Loma Linda University officials presented on how they led a low-budget development of a high-powered experience transcript! Which college or university sat in the room this year that was inspired by Loma Linda? The power of the Parchment network cannot be measured.

2016 User Conference session tracks were focused on specific groups of Parchment users: high school senders, college/university admissions offices (receivers) and college/university registrar offices (senders), while networking opportunities to meet the person on the “other side” of the credential exchange were plentiful.

As a Parchment community, we are more than the sum of our parts. Long after the sessions have ended at the 2016 Parchment User Conference, whether or not you were able to join us in Washington, DC, we want you to stay engaged with both your peers and Parchment. Join the Parchment online community, Collaborate, to stay connected. In Collaborate, you can build powerful connections, share best practices or learn how academic offices are empowering their students. Start a discussion. Ask a question. Be active. Parchment built this with you in mind so you have and place to grow.

Until the next User Conference, we look forward to connecting with you in Collaborate!

Parchment Named Top Product by University Business Magazine

 

University Business Magazine is the most widely received and most regularly read publication for higher education leaders at two- and four-year colleges universities nationwide and has once again recognized Parchment as a “Reader’s Choice Top Product.” Parchment was recently recognized for making a positive difference on college campuses by higher ed leaders who named the Parchment services as a top product.

This is the second time in two years Parchment has been recognized by University Business readers. In 2013, Parchment was also recognized by University Business as a “Reader’s Choice Top Product.”

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Hundreds of product nominations for top products were submitted by top higher ed leaders and the selection of products was determined by those that enhance learning across the country.  The University Business Reader’s Choice Top Products award program informs higher ed leaders about products their colleagues around the country are using to help their campuses excel in a variety of areas, such as technology, sustainability and academic instruction.

Live from Scottsdale, the Parchment Top 10

We all loved David Letterman’s Top 10 lists right? From the wacky to the wonderful, Letterman had a way to help us understand the importance of many current events. Today, Parchment introduces its very own Top 10: The Top 10 Reasons to You Should Attend the 2016 Parchment Exchange User Conference.  We can’t ask Paul Shaffer for a drumroll so without further delay, the Parchment Top 10:

  1. The Power of the Exchange: Time after time, attendees tell us that the most valuable takeaway from attending is the opportunity to network and have real conversations with their peers.
  1. Parchment Summit: Join us a day early for the first event bringing together leaders and practitioners in higher education, philanthropy and technology to discuss innovating academic credentials. (Separate registration required: Register now!)
  1. Get the Playbook: Learn directly from your peers how to execute your goals! This year’s sessions include a look at Loma Linda University’s Experiential Transcript … an idea they put into place after attending the 2014 conference.
  1. See the Future: Parchment Product Managers will present prototype software and conduct focus group sessions to capture your feedback. Help Parchment build the best product for you!
  1. Session Roulette: With four unique session tracks, there’s a wide variety of programming to choose from. See the full agenda.
  1. Long Lasting Connections: Meet the person on the other side of the exchange. Compare notes on how to help each other and make the coming year the most successful yet.
  1. Get Trained: Parchment’s K12 trainer will be at your service to get every question answered. (Free, optional pre­conference activity: RSVP here)
  1. Mix­n­Mingle: Enjoy a stylish night out in Washington D.C. at our annual Member Appreciation evening event.
  1. Combat Hunger: Create Opportunities Give back to the community and join the Morning Meal Prep volunteer activity at D.C. Central Kitchen (Optional pre­conference activity: RSVP here)

And the No. 1 reason to attend the 2016 Parchment Exchange User Conference…

  1. Explore the Nation’s Capital: The Renaissance Washington DC DuPont hotel is centrally located and the perfect launch pad to explore all of the activities DC has to offer. Extend your stay at the preferred conference rate to explore DC before or after the conference.

Don’t delay and register now. Early bird pricing ends December 31, 2015.

2016 Parchment User Conference: The Ultimate Agenda

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The Fourth Annual Parchment User Conference is just ten weeks away and while you’re planning your 2016 New Year’s Resolutions, be sure “Enhance Parchment Skills” is on your list. With peer-led sessions, Parchment member schools will be bringing community to the network at the annual conference.

The conference, rich with member content will feature the following sessions:

  • Campus Collaboration: A Peoplesoft Integration Story. Salisbury University
  • Send & Receive Exchange Panel. Shippensburg Area High School; Temple University; Virginia Department of Education; Powhatan County
  • Low Budget Development of a High-Powered Experience Transcript. Loma Linda University
  • Transcript Outsourcing: Reallocated Labor and Improved Student Experience in Enrollment Services. Boston University
  • From 0 to 60: The Fast Track to Counseling Success. Frederick Douglass High School
  • How ASU Receives 220K Transcripts Without Breaking a Sweat. Arizona State University
  • The Visual Transcript: The Next Evolution of eCredentials. Elon University
  • Parchment Implementation CSM Style: Ellucian APIs. College of Southern Maryland
  • Parchment Breaking Barriers. City High Middle School
  • Admission G.H.O.S.T.s. Touro College
  • Extending the Transcript for Competency Based Education. University of Maryland University College

In addition to member sessions, Parchment will offer training sessions and insights into the Parchment product road map. The 2016 User Conference will be held Thursday, February 18 and Friday, February 19 in Washington D.C. Early bird registration is $50 through December 31, 2015.

To learn more or register today, visit 2016 Parchment Exchange User Conference

Help Supercharge the Parchment Community

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The Parchment member network is nothing without you. You and your peers bring community to the network of schools that rely on Parchment to safely and securely exchange academic credentials. The Parchment member community will gather February 18-19 in Washington DC for the Fourth Annual Parchment Exchange User Conference. Will you be there?

The Parchment Exchange User Conference is comprised of member-led sessions around topics related to credential exchange. Sessions will focus on:

  • Best Practices. Tips and tricks to save you time, energy and headaches.
  • New and Emerging Trends. Did you know that the State of Indiana has introduced a state-wide common transcript initiative using XML data?
  • Elon University is innovating their credentials by offering students a visual, experiential transcript.
  • Optimizing the Learner Experience. Learners can request their academic credentials in a variety of ways including on their smartphones.

All Parchment members are invited and encouraged to attend. This can’t-miss conference will have specific tracks with programming for high school senders, higher education senders and higher education receivers. Convening this diverse community of practice leads to rich and meaningful discussions.

Early bird registration is now open. Register by December 31, 2015 to save fifty percent. We look forward to helping you supercharge your Parchment experience next February in Washington D.C.

How to Rock Social Media at Your School

You’re on Facebook, right? What about Twitter? What are your students using? Rita Jensen, Records Coordinator at Chattahoochee High School in Johns Creek, GA will lead a Brown Bag Break (think high school focused webinar) on Wednesday, December 2 at 1 p.m. EST to detail how you can create a social media strategy that’s right for your school.

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The 30-minute webinar will help you to better understand:

  • What social media channels your students are using
  • How you can get your school started
  • What things you can do, say and share on social media

When she’s done, you’ll be on your way to be the social media guru in your school!

Sign up today for Rita’s December 2 webinar!  #SeeYouThere

Parchment Grows Postsecondary Member Network in North Carolina

From high school to college, from one college to another college or from college to the workforce, learners across the United States need to provide their academic credentials to gain access to admission or employment. More than 7,400 high schools, colleges and universities across the country rely on Parchment’s industry leading academic credential management system to aid in the digital exchange of these learner’s credentials.

In North Carolina alone, schools like Elon University and Durham Technical Community College are part of Parchment’s expansive member network that today enables digital credential request and fulfillment to 22 percent of US enrollments in secondary schools and 15 percent of enrollments in postsecondary schools.

CCHS

Carolinas College of Health Sciences is currently working to implement Parchment to join its rich member network. A top-ranked two-year college located in Charlotte, North Carolina, Carolinas College of Health Sciences will be able to offer current student and alumni immediate access to request the digital exchange of their credentials to any other college, university or professional organization in the world.

The college selected Parchment’s services based on the size of Parchment’s member network, ease of implementation and Parchment’s proven track record of helping to improve student services.

Parchment has worked with schools and learners for more than 10 years to make the process of requesting and sending credentials faster, easier and more secure than ever before. This summer, the company facilitated the exchange of its 20 millionth credential request. Digitizing credentials helps to streamline operations for both the sending and receiving institutions, and enables receiving colleges and universities to use the data to optimize course placement, transfer articulation and reverse transfer.

More Than 200 High Schools Engage in National Student Registration Week

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Last month, Parchment kicked-off the inaugural “National Student Registration Week,” a national movement to get students prepared for their future. The mission for the week was to further aid high school counseling offices as they help students get ahead of college application deadlines by registering for their free account on Parchment.com.

We know that whether students are searching for the right college, applying for an internship or interviewing for a job, sharing a copy of their high school transcript will be part of the process. Students who register on Parchment.com will have quick and easy access to make their digital transcript requests.

During the week of October 19, 230 schools, spanning 30 states, participated in the First Annual Parchment National Student Registration Week. These schools hosted a variety of events from registration stations in libraries and computer labs to one-on-one counselor and student meetings. After student’s completed their Parchment registration, they were celebrated with a luck “I Registered” sticker.

MavCounseling NSRW

The schools that participated enroll more than 38,000 students who, after registering, are now able to research and explore colleges and build their college lists using Parchment’s free admissions tools.

A special thank you to the schools that participated this year, it’s really exciting to see how you’re helping #EveryStudent prepare for their future.

Learn, Share and Connect with Peers: Join the Parchment Online Community Today!

Earlier this year, Parchment introduced an online community, Collaborate, bringing together the robust network of Parchment users for community discussions.  Whether soliciting feedback on visual transcripts or how to motivate students, Parchment member institutions rely on this community to collaborate and innovate.

Parchment Collaborate

How it Works

Community Forum: A great place to ask questions and share information, similar to message boards open to the public.

Challenges:  Short challenges cover a spectrum of topics. Each challenge you complete adds to your point total.

Direct to Member Messaging: Did a particular comment pique your interest? Send a private message to a peer from within the community.

Rewards: Redeem points for rewards. Earn a basket of appreciation or the opportunity to be a guest blogger.

Participation in the Collaborate Community is voluntary. Once you introduce yourself and start completing challenges, we know you’ll come back for more. Think you’re ready to join? Sign up today!

 

20 Million Credentials Strong

Cue the balloons dropping and the confetti cannon. It’s time to celebrate!

This week Parchment facilitated the exchange of the 20 MILLIONTH credential request in company history!  For 12 years Parchment has been working with high schools and higher education institutions to make the process of sending electronic academic credentials, like transcripts, for students simple and secure.

No one knows this better than Chantal Aguirre. On the afternoon of Monday, July 20, Chantal logged on to Parchment.com from her laptop at home. She requested that Parchment send her Vista Ridge High School transcript to Arizona State University.  Little did she know how important her request would be in the history of Parchment.

Chantal is a 17-year old and will be a high school senior next month. She plans to apply to five or six colleges. On this date, Chantal would complete her first college application by sending her transcript to the ASU admissions office.

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“I would like to major in geography and then get my master’s in sustainability,” said the quiet Texan. When asked what profession she is working toward, “I would like to join the Peace Corps and then work for a non-profit.”

Chantal is like millions of other students around the world that have come to rely on Parchment for the efficient exchange of their hard-earned academic credentials.   “It was really easy,” said Chantal. “When I logged on, the whole process took me less than five minutes. I was actually making a snack at the same time.”

Congratulations Chantal, the entire Parchment team wishes you the best of luck!

Temple University Goes Digital with Parchment

The Registrar’s Office at Temple University made a commitment to taking student’s academic credentials to the next level – the digital level. Effective Spring 2015, Temple Owls can now request their hard-earned academic credentials be sent digitally to any destination in the world, through Parchment.

In collaboration with Parchment and Banner by Ellucian, a leader in student information systems, Temple students and alumni will have the option of requesting a secure digital transcript as well as a traditional paper transcript.

“Annually, we were processing nearly 50,000 paper transcript orders that could take from 1-15 days to complete,” said Temple Registrar, Bhavesh Bambhrolia. “Working with Parchment to make our credentials digital provides two immediate benefits for our students: near real-time processing & delivery and enhanced communication to the student. They now know when the transcript arrived at its destination and when it was opened. This level of transparency provides additional peace of mind that we couldn’t offer before.”

Because academic credentials are a commodity in the marketplace, their security and authenticity is paramount. Temple digital credentials will include many of the same security measures of their paper counterparts as well as additional security measures to protect their electronic form. Appearing distinctly different from the paper design, the Temple digital credential will come with passcode protection with an embedded Blue Ribbon certified electronic signature. Additionally, only the intended recipient can open the digital version to view the electronic signature.

Temple admits that there is more to come as they continue to extend their credentials. “In the coming year, we will be exploring an enhanced degree verification system, certified electronic diplomas and a digital credentials library for every Temple student,” said Bambhrolia.

To learn more about how Temple University is innovating credentials, follow the Temple Registrar blog.

 

Groningen Declaration: The Future of Digital Student Data Portability

Declaration Signing -edited

This spring I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Málaga, Spain to represent Parchment and become a signatory of the Groningen Declaration. This international document seeks common ground to best serve both the academic and professional mobility needs of learners around the world by bringing together key stakeholders in the Digital Student Data Ecosystem.

Introduced in 2012 with meetings annually, the Groningen Network is a process. The intent of this process is a more integrated global system for the secure exchange of electronic student records. The process, of which the declaration is a part, includes demonstration projects and annual meetings designed to connect key governments, service providers and educational institutions. Each annual meeting includes a new class of invited signatories. An initial signatory, the U.S. based National Student Clearinghouse has played an important role in leading this international movement.

The declaration itself is a set of principles focused on allowing learners around the world to be able to consult and share their authentic educational data with whomever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. The full text of the Groningen Declaration can be found here.

By signing this declaration, we have signaled our engagement with universities, companies and governments worldwide to facilitate the transfer of electronic academic credentials. It is an exciting time to participate in the early formation of a global ecosystem of governments, educational institutions and service providers committed to enabling the secure exchange of electronic student records.

Other global signatories from 2015 include:

  • Universities of Australia
  • ARUCC (Association of Registrars of the Universities and Colleges of Canada)
  • CDSL (Central Depository Services Limited) and C-NAD )National Academic Depository)
  • Academic Information Centre
  • EP-Nuffic
  • Groningen University
  • Glavexpertcentr –National Information Center
  • Universidad de Málaga
  • CollegeNET
  • IMS Global
  • IERF (International Education Research Foundation)
  • PESC
  • Stanford University
  • TAICEP (The Association for Credential Evaluation Professionals)
  • University of Texas at Austin

Parchment 7: UI Updates for Receivers

Parchment 7 is being released on July 11, 2015. We know how important it is to keep your process and procedures running smoothly, so while we made many enhancements to the interface and on the back end to improve speed and performance, you’ll find that your day to day functions have stayed the same.

When you first log in, things will look a bit different.

Let’s take a tour!

 

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  • ANALYTICS: The biggest change is the removal of the dashboard. After July 11 when you log in you will go directly to the Inbox.  You can still access all of your analytics on a new ANALYTICS tab.
  • NEW LOOK: You’ll see the color palette has been updated and some of the styling is leaner and sleeker to keep the UI modern.
  • NO FUNCTIONALITY CHANGES: There are no changes to how you download, route, or otherwise process incoming transcripts. All of that has stayed exactly the same.
  • ORDER: The Requests tab has been renamed ORDER. This feature was previously only available for our Premium Parchment Receivers, but is now available for everyone.  Now you can request transcripts for individuals or a batch of students directly from their institution.  Read the Help Center articles on Request Transcript on Behalf of Others for more information.

Let us know what you think of the updated look and feel! If you have questions please let either your Account Executive know, or contact us at feedback@parchment.com.

Parchment Named Top 50 Education Company

We’ve been busy here at Parchment preparing for the launch of Parchment 7 in July, to bring you the most advanced credential management system. As we continue to focus on helping institutions extend their credentials to empower their learners, it seems the industry has taken notice.

Earlier this month, Parchment was recognized as a 2015 Tyton Growth50 company, a list highlighting the most exciting growth-stage companies scaling their impact in the education sector. The Tyton Growth50 celebrates “innovative organizations that are achieving impact at scale and achieving a combination of strong financial, customer penetration, and brand awareness performance.”

“We work every day to find unique and impactful ways to help universities extend their credentials as a means to empower their learners,” says Parchment CEO, Matthew Pittinsky, Ph.D. “ The potential to communicate more information in more compelling ways, through digital credentials, is a great opportunity and responsibility.”

Great responsibility, indeed. Earlier this year, Parchment published a whitepaper, “Extending the Credential Empowering the Learner” introducing the Credential Innovation Framework, five activity clusters that can help institutions make their credentials more effective for learners. Parchment also surveyed both students and registrars in March 2015 to gather their opinions on the digitalization of credentials. The results may surprise you.

This is the inaugural year for the Tyton Growth50, a list curated by Tyton Partners senior professionals, who have several decades of deep transactional and advisory experience. The team assessed hundreds of companies to arrive at the list of finalists. The Growth50 organizations were announced at the Tyton Education Summit in New York City on June 2, an event that convenes a diverse set of entrepreneurs and established companies, investors and foundations, and K-12 and postsecondary institutions from across the education sector to engage in substantive discussions about the mission-critical issues facing the space.

Earlier this year, Parchment was also honored by PESC, with their Annual Best Practices Award.

 

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