John Hancock

How to Choose an E-Signature Vendor for Your Financial Aid Office

We live in an eWorld, where you can visit your doctor via telemedicine, find your soulmate through online dating and earn a degree without stepping foot in a classroom. And e-signatures, or electronic signatures, are one of the biggest catalysts of this new digital world.

E-signature allows your students and their parents to sign important college-related documents conveniently from any computer, tablet or smartphone. We outline why this is an excellent feature to offer in 7 Reasons Your School Should Adopt E-Sign Immediately.

There are plenty of vendors to choose from when you’re considering adding e-signature capabilities on your college or university campus. Picking the right electronic signature vendor could be the difference between easy, secure e-signature at a low cost and an e-disaster. Read our advice below to learn how to pick the best e-signature vendor.

Not All Electronic John Hancock Companies are Created Equal

It wasn’t many years ago that e-signatures, or electronic signatures, were a rarity. Now e-signatures are used in businesses every day and carry the same legal consequences as a traditional signature – provided they follow the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act of 2000 (ESIGN Act). Unfortunately, not all companies follow the letter of this law (pun intended!). If you are thinking about adopting an e-signature capability for your school, check out the following tips to make sure you’re getting the right one.

Don’t Pay Extra for E-Signature

Many companies will offer digital signing capabilities at an upcharge on their existing product. Still others will integrate with an outside vendor to conduct e-signing.

Perhaps at CampusLogic, we take our motto of simplification too seriously, but we think you should get e-sign for free and it should be built into the product naturally without requiring integration. Our StudentVerification and StudentDocuments products include e-signature at no extra charge. Furthermore, the “perk” of digital signature capabilities is conducted through our product, which boasts government-grade encryption and security. So you know the signatures are safe with us.

Retain Record of Contract

Section 101(d) states that a record of the transaction that reflects the substance of the contract must be saved and must be accessible in form such that it may be reproduced later for reference. This is the true beauty and cost savings of electronic signatures – the ability to store electronic files, rather than printing and storing hard copies.

Be Sure it Confirms Identity

In the paper world, it is assumed that the symbol representing a signing party is attached to or located somewhere in the same paper that is intended to be authenticated, i.e. the classic signature at the end of a long contract. These tangible manifestations do not exist in the electronic environment, and accordingly, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) requires that the symbol must in some way be linked to, or connected with, the electronic record being signed.

Meaning, the signature is only as valuable as the method of confirming its user’s identity. Be sure you choose a vendor that has a thorough process for confirming identity. StudentVerification’s identity confirmation process is outlined below under the section titled CampusLogic’s eSign: Conquering the World of Electronic Signatures.

Require an Opt-out

Section 101 of the ESIGN Act states that individuals must still have the right to not use electronic signature and instead sign on paper. Any e-signature vendor must allow your students and their parents the ability to opt out of e-signing.

StudentVerification gives students and parents the ability to print out the verification paperwork, sign and return to the school at any time. Furthermore, they can opt to upload the doc back into the system, using their phone or a scanner.

Give Full Disclosure

In addition to giving your students and their parents the option of paper signing, your e-signature vendor must also include a “Consumer Disclosure,” stating that the signatory has consented to use the electronic format.

CampusLogic’s eSign: Conquering the World of Electronic Signatures

We don’t want to brag, but not only is our e-signature feature built into our products for free, our system is slick. Real slick. We use a simple, yet effective process to confirm students’ and/or parents’ identities and verify the identity on each signature:

  1. When a student creates her account, she must enter in four pieces of personally identifiable information (PII).
  2. Our system instantly compares that information to the student’s ISIR record, which is the same information that the FAFSA requires.
  3. The student then creates a unique password between 8 and 32 characters that must include at least one of each:
  • Upper case letter
  • Lower case letter
  • Number
  1. Each time the student goes to e-sign, she has to re-enter this password.

If the student is dependent, this is the process for the parent to confirm identity and sign:

  1. After the student signs, she sends a request for signature to her parent(s) from the StudentVerification platform.
  2. The parent gets the link and is prompted to provide PII of the student and of himself, which StudentVerification also compares to the ISIR.
  3. StudentVerification then captures a digital certificate of the signed document. Think of this as a digital seal that goes with the document to verify that it hasn’t been tampered with and that tracks the IP address it came from.

When shopping for your e-signature vendor or considering having a current vendor add the feature, be sure to ask about the features above. This will  keep your department in compliance with the law and ensure the best experience for your students and their parents, as well as your staff.

Click the image below or visit our Solutions page to learn more about StudentVerification, our dynamic app that automates the verification process, enabling colleges and universities to save time and money, lower security risk and improve the student experience.