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The End of the Paper Chase: 3 Institutions That Turned the Registrar’s Office Into a Revenue Generator

Parchment Staff  •  Mar 25, 2016  •  Blog

At Parchment, we’re betting 2016 is the year of the eTranscript. Why? How does cutting costs and streamlining efficiency sound? That’s the kind of success hundreds of universities across the country are finding when they shake off antiquated traditions and go digital with eTranscripts. And the proof is in the pudding: a recent study found that switching from paper to digital dropped per-transcript administrative costs by 35 percent, on average, while also increasing revenue.

We asked registrars at Kansas State, Furman University in Greenville, SC, and Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) to share their experience switching to Parchment eTranscripts. Here’s what they had to say.

Kansas State: Profiting from New Traditions

At Kansas State University, the transcript window was an antiquated campus site, in need of an update. For the KSU registrar’s office, closing “the window” ushered out a traditional practice and created new opportunities (and a bigger budget) to more efficiently and effectively serve students, in a way befitting the 21st century: digital.

“Tearing down an on-campus icon is never an easy choice — and the transcript window certainly was just that – but, once we identified the benefits, as a team we couldn’t pass up the chance to serve students in new ways while also cutting costs,” said Barbara Nagel, KSU Assistant Registrar for Office Operations.

Today, Kansas State’s Customer Services Support Center exists where the transcript window once stood. The result is a one-stop shop for students with complicated administrative inquiries, issues, or problems, especially when it comes to transcripts. For these sensitive matters the university has taken a staged approach. Students use Parchment to login online anytime, between classes, at the library, etc., and order transcripts from the university’s student information system. Documents are then made available for pickup during regular hours at the Service Center.

Early feedback was that students loved the more streamlined process, especially since it ate up less time in their busy schedules. Five  years into implementing Parchment, KSU has reduced the headcount for handling transcript-related requests from two full-time employees,one part-time worker, and one temporary staff member to one full-time employee ..

“If we could have known how greatly this system would improve our students’ lives, then we would have closed the transcript window years ago!” says Nagel.

Furman: Fast Service Makes Fans

Furman may be an order of magnitude smaller than KSU — just 3,000 are enrolled most years — but it’s about as active as an institution can be when it comes to serving its students. Associate Dean and University Registrar Brad Barron and his team have delivered over 20,000 eTranscripts over the last three years.

“We went from zero to 100 percent [adoption] in less than four months,” Barron said of student enthusiasm for the Parchment system, which processes and sends eTranscripts in 30 minutes, down from the four to six hours it took under the old paper-based system. Faster delivery leads to handling more requests, which leads to more revenue for Barron’s department and a stronger relationship between the department and its students.

Texas A&M at Corpus Christi: More Data, More Revenue

Like Furman and KSU, Texas A&M at Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) wasn’t meeting students’ needs with its paper-based transcript system. Manual processes were bottlenecking the system, keeping administrators from filling more than 17,000 annual requests in a timely fashion. Registrar Michael Rendon turned to eTranscripts via Parchment Send to solve the problem, and the results proved better than expected.

“With Parchment, we can accept requests 24/7, collect payment almost immediately, and deliver certified eTranscripts that look the same as my paper transcripts, from the watermark to my signature,” Rendon said. Student adoption — and, correspondingly, departmental revenue — is up significantly as a result.

A Digital Future for All

Despite the obvious benefits of eTranscripts, the Parchment survey found that only 43 percent of institutions send them on behalf of students. Nagel sees that changing, and her peers would appear to agree: 72 percent of registrars and administrators polled said that digitizing transcripts with Parchment makes their lives easier. Even more (76 percent) believe that students are also better served. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why so many eTranscript adopters report higher revenues and lower costs. By implementing eTranscripts, departments are able to become more efficient, potentially adding services to their offerings and becoming the one-stop shops for students from the beginning to the completion of the transcript procurement, finalization and sending process.

“When we look back and think about how we used to manage transcripts with a manual paper process, we wonder how we ever did it,” says Nagel.

There’s always more to learn.

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