The wait is over: OCR is here! And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
We’ve been telling you for months that our dev team was hard at work, building Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for tax transcripts into StudentFormsSM. Why is this so #awesome for Financial Aid Offices? No more late nights of data entry. No more mistakes. Way less time processing verifications.
An OCR That Further Simplifies the FinAid Process (Really!)
OCR is the process of scanning and converting printed or handwritten text into digital information—just as today’s ATMs read checks. Now a built-in feature of StudentForms, part of the CampusLogic platform, OCR enables Financial Aid Professionals to upload data-dense tax transcripts, and automatically extract relevant information when a student is selected for verification. The OCR-harvested data auto-fills an easy-to-view-and-compare window and conflicting information is automatically highlighted. The Financial Aid Office verifies the conflicts, then generates a correction to the Department of Education with the simple push of a button.
On the students’ side—documents can be submitted by smartphone, anywhere and anytime.
OCR Release Coincides, Unexpectedly, with IRS DRT Outage
“The technology it takes to prepare an image for OCR to accurately capture information on a document takes time to develop,” says CampusLogic COO Chris Chumley. “We didn’t create this new feature in response to the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) going offline in March. Rather, we started working on it last fall in response to the fact that many students couldn’t use the DRT even when it was functioning.”
Research shows that an estimated 20–30% of FinAid applicants still submit paper tax transcripts when selected for verification, he notes. That means those big documents with so much information must be manually entered, compared, and corrected. It’s a tedious and time-consuming exercise for staff. Adding OCR functionality, Chumley says, was a logical update to StudentForms.
That it’s being released during the DRT downtime, however, is fortuitous, Chumley acknowledges: “There’s now a much bigger, unanticipated workload for Financial Aid Offices. But our OCR technology makes this issue a non-issue.”
We Love Our Customers and They Know It
If you’re a customer, you already have OCR. Just tell your Customer Success Manager that you want to “opt-in.” It’s a complimentary feature that requires no training and no IT intervention. “Current users won’t see any change to their workflows—other than even faster processing times since the data is now pre-populated directly from the document,” Chumley explains.
That’s it. Simply opt-in to one less obstacle, and a lot less “friction,” along the Student Financial Aid Journey.
“Our customers already have seen dramatic reductions in the time it takes to process a verification file, but we’re always looking for ways to improve. Now, we can offer complete automation of the process—with no data entry and no human error,” says Chumley.
“We already had the best solution in the marketplace,” he adds. “With OCR, we just turned the dial to ‘11’.”