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UG Financial Aid saves green and goes green with OnBase

Emily Byrne
Emily Byrne, of Undergraduate Financial Aid, scans financial aid support documents into OnBase.

Flash back to Spring 2009. Walk into the Undergraduate Financial Aid office. The fax machine is running, beeping, and hard at work while stacks of incoming mail await attention. Spring forward to March 2010. Walk into the Undergraduate Financial Aid office. The mail piles are gone, there is relative calm, and an occasional hum of a scanner. OnBase is quietly hard at work.

On average, 13,000 potential freshmen and returning upperclassmen mail and fax documents to support their financial aid application each year. This year, thanks to OnBase technology and fax server 'magic,' there is appreciably less paper and no manual filing. Documents received by mail are scanned, faxes are captured electronically, and documents are automatically ‘received’ when indexed in OnBase. Financial Aid counselors and office staff now work with electronic documents, rather than riffling through piles of paper documents and folders.

“The OnBase System has significantly reduced the amount of paper routed through our office,” said Robin Moscato, Director of Undergraduate Financial Aid. “In addition to supporting efforts that are more cost-effective and 'green', it helps us to efficiently manage the tremendous amount of information sent to us during the Admissions/Financial Aid processes, freeing up staff time to assist applicants and their families.”

The OnBase system interfaces directly with the Financial Aid system, saving data entry time and improving accuracy. From December 2009 through March of this year, the busiest season in the Financial Aid office, 16,509 pages were scanned and 41,315 pages were faxed to the new system. Four direct lines to the OnBase system are now proficiently processing submissions once handled by one physical fax machine.

OnBase is also being put to work in the History department, where all financial transaction paperwork is now being scanned and filed electronically. Now, it is fully searchable and easily accessible to Debora Macy, Business Manager of the History department, and auditors alike.

Macy said, “This is a great tool that’s helping us be green, eliminating the need for storage space, and, unlike paper files, you can’t lose your paperwork by misfiling it. Our next goal is importing our graduate student dossiers to OnBase, and we are already exploring other uses such as course packets and faculty search materials. I think that more people will utilize this tool, once they become aware of its availability, and can see the many benefits it offers.”

The Facilities Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) department is also putting OnBase to work in their office. FAS is scanning their contract documents, including invoices, and making them accessible online through OnBase. Paper documents are no longer filed or archived. And, the Treasurer’s Office now has direct access to electronic versions of contract documents, so time is no longer spent gathering and delivering paper support documents. A follow-up project is currently under way to add workflow functionality, including automatic e-mail notification to project managers when new contracts become available in OnBase.

OnBase combines document imaging, secure electronic document storage and retrieval, and workflow management to offer a coordinated digital file management solution. OnBase helps:

  • save time spent copying, distributing, filing, searching in files
  • reduce or eliminate costs associated with faxing (paper/toner)
  • reduce or eliminate copying and printing costs
  • reduce filing costs: folders, labels, time to create folders
  • increase efficiencies: multiple people can access files at once and paper forms can be made into electronic forms

For additional information about OnBase, see KB solution 9533. To speak with an OnBase expert in OIT about how OnBase can be used in your department, contact the OIT Packaged Solutions and Integration Group (PSIG) at psig@princeton.edu.