Paid transcript system begins

Story by Emily Gresbrink

A new and updated online transcript delivery service for the University’s registration and records office went live on Monday, March 5, giving Eau Claire a digital PDF transcript option for the first time.

The system, operated by an online service company Credentials Solutions, works to provide alumni and current students with the option of an $8 PDF official transcript or a $10 paper copy, according to University Registrar Jim Barrett.

Barrett said the process to leave the old system — which he described as a self-service function, where tracking and mailing was the responsibility of the student — was sparked by ongoing comments from students and alumni.

“We had gotten a number of complaints about not having express service and that the process itself, while students knew they submitted the request, didn’t know what happened next,” he said. “We needed a solution to serve both of those populations.”

He added that the time for paid transcripts coming to the University was something unavoidable.

“I think being able to hold off costs for this long has been a positive thing,” he said.

The Illinois-based company’s website says that the program, Transcripts Plus, works by linking servers with student information system to automate the manual production processes involved with transcript orders — in other words, the system is now linked with My CampS to easily access records to make official transcripts in a speedier process.

Additionally, the website says that the system manages offline records (for archived transcripts) and automatically communicates with a student each step along the way.

Barrett said the final purpose of switching systems was for three priority reasons: improving communication, increasing security and providing better services for students and alumni.

Senior Lauren Huebsch said she likes the fact that the process of acquiring a transcript is more secure.

“I like that I can see if someone is opening up my transcript or that they do or do not care (about grades). Sometimes it can be a myth if people look at your transcript or not,” she said.

Staff for registration and records decided to choose Credentials Solutions because they met the three aforementioned priorities and other UW schools use the system. Eau Claire will be the seventh UW System school to switch to Transcripts Plus, Barrett said. New features for the process are:

Improved communication: The new system provides tracking codes for FedEx express delivery (with Credentials Solution providing a discount rate) and authentication codes for PDFs — this creates a way for students and alumni to see exactly where the transcript is going and if it has been received.

Increased security: PDF transcripts have codes for student and third-party recipients that require online verification upon arrival. Credentials Solution’s servers do not retain credit card information and unopened transcripts are deleted after 30 days. Additionally, the verification code for PDF transcripts is reusable.

Providing better services: Barrett said the PDF transcript is sent immediately after the ordering process ends, making for less waiting time.

Barrett added that unofficial transcripts are still no cost to the students and gratis transcripts are given at graduation and when a department has a internal, specific need for a transcript, such as study abroad application processes.

As of March 5, the system has sent out 140 transcripts, and 30 percent of those were PDFs. Barrett said the negative reactions to the new system have been sparse.

“We had a total of three complaints — one had a couple comments that were things we needed to look at and the other two were rather short,” he said.

Huebsch said she personally doesn’t mind the small cost difference for transcripts, but could see it as a problem for some people.

“Then again,” she said, “they are your grades and you’re still paying for all the components of school — why can’t they include this in there, too?”

Barrett did acknowledge the change in price could seem discouraging at first.

“I feel like we’re improving the service,” Barrett said. “Do we feel good about charging? No, I don’t think anyone does. But we’re at a point where we have to look at all of the costs. So this will allow us to get the job done with less people, be more efficient and provide a better service level to students.”