How much does the switch to electronic transcripts cost?

August 20, 2018
  • AACRAO Publications
  • Electronic Records and Document Exchange
  • Records and Academic Services
  • SPEEDE
  • Systems Management
  • Transcripts
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The first question asked when discussing electronic data exchanges is “How much will it cost?”

A better question might be: “How much will it save?”

“Of course, there are costs involved in converting to an electronic solution, but the benefits of EDX outweigh them,” write the authors of AACRAO’s Basic Guide to Electronic Data Exchange, updated and published this summer.

Most institutions don’t have an accurate assessment of the unit cost of sending and receiving a paper transcript. A comparison is articulated below.

Paper-based transcript cost considerations include:

When sending

  • security paper and school seals,

  • printer and toner,

  • envelopes and postage

  • labor for sorting, matching the pages of documents, stuffing envelopes, and printing and affixing mailing labels,

  • cost of outsourcing these functions, if applicable.

When receiving

  • manually processing mail,

  • matching documents to applicant or enrollee records,

  • sorting, batching and/or filing,

  • transcript data entry and associated corrections,

  • manual evaluation decisions,

  • GPA calculations,

  • confirming prerequisites have been satisfied, and

  • filing or scanning,

  • storing paper documents or housing them at a secure facility

EDX transcript cost considerations include:

  • accessing electronic data,

  • purchasing hardware and software,

  • technical expertise for programming, networking, data integration, and software development,

  • one-time costs of hiring talent or a service provider for technical and functional expertise mapping the transcript data in the SIS to the electronic transcript specifications for EDI or XML, and

  • training staff in new business processes

  • maintaining trading partner relationships, service provider contracts, and continued efforts toward automation or integration.

“Due to differences in labor costs and the number of employees, the cost and value of electronic transcripts will vary from institution to institution,” the authors write. “In general, institutions may experience 25 to 35 percent savings by switching from the sending of paper to electronic transcripts.”

The Guide also covers EDX standards, PDF transcripts, processing system requirements, and much more.