Versions Compared


  • This line was added.
  • This line was removed.
  • Formatting was changed.

Request No.2014-40
Date of Original RequestDecember 31, 2014
RequesterCCCApply Steering Committee
Application(s)All Applications
Section / Page

In-Progress Applications

Steering ApprovalAPPROVED March 2017
Steering Hearing DateJune 16, 2016
Change to DownloadsNo
Change to LogicNo

Table of Contents

Problem / Issue

Colleges have requested access to the In-Progress application database for the purpose of identifying students who have started an application but never completed or submitted one. Outreach to students who appear to have abandoned the application process is a high priority to colleges. In addition, they claim that the legacy Xap system allowed them tthis access and they are requesting CCCApply be modified to allow them access to these applicants for recruitment purposes. Bottom line: colleges want to support students and help them get through the admission application process. 

Per discussions during Steering Committee meetings, Tim Calhoon, CCCTC Exec Director, adds, "Note: If we (CCC) do the notifying to the student about an unfinished/unsubmitted application, then we are all good. BUT the COLLEGE CAN NOT LEGALLY NOTIFY THE STUDENT and therefore cannot see data or know anything about an unsubmitted application."

titleClick here to

The purpose of this change is to implement a way where the system can generate a generic email to all students who have started an application but have not yet submitted it for processing. It is not legal for colleges to have access to the details of the application for the student has provided Consent by electronically signing their application and hitting "submit"; therefore, we will need to gain an understanding of what is permissible and what is legal in order for this generic email to go out to students who have not submitted an application. Patty plans to meet with the Steering Committee to finalize requirements

Response from CCCApply

When a student starts an application with CCCApply, they are establishing a legal agreement / contract with the CCC Chancellor’s office. When they complete their application and submit, at this point, they are entering into an agreement to release their information to the college.

titleClick here to

Steering Committee Response 11/1/16

After discussing the specific text and message content of the emails (many colleges want to provide the content with links to their site) Tim suggested that a few different options:

  1. Use the Admissions contact fields i n the Administrator to merge in specific contact information to the emails (colleges had issues with this process as these only include Admissions contacts and they have other support services in mind);
  2. Use the functionality in the Rules area:  email messages and email rules that would enable the college to create their own email content;
  3. Create a generic email message for the colleges who don't create an email message.

Proposed Solution

This issue led to many conversations across the CCCApply Steering Committee and CACCRAO Committees, and the solution is multi-faceted.

The ultimate solution is to challenge the existing Privacy Policy and compliance with FERPA and other government agencies that govern student privacy issues, to interpret (and enact) new policy so that colleges can reach out and provide support services to students who are having problems completing the admission application. As of the December 2016 CCCApply Steering meeting, new Chair Stephanie Murguia, with support from Secretary Mitch Leahy and CCCCO representative Michael Q., will submit a proposal to Legal to get an official opinion on accessing student pre-submission data for the purposes of providing support. 

Interim Solution: Phase 1 
Send a system-generated, generic email from CCCApply servers (on behalf of the intended college) to Applicant who starts an application but does not submit the application within 24 hours.  A second email "nudge" would be repeated if the application is still unsubmitted after 7 days, providing links to the My Applications to "sign-in, resume app, and submit" or "delete/remove the unsubmitted application".  

titleClick here to
  1. Create two generic, merge-field Emails which will be sent to student's email address <email> , using <firstname>+<lastname>
  2. System logic is implemented to send Email #1 is sent to student if the application has not been submitted after 24 hours of starting app.
  3. Logic is implemented to send Email #2 to Applicant if after 7 days the application still has not been submitted (7 days since start of application and no submission).
  4. Phase I: Email Content
    The content of the emails would serve several purposes:
    1. Remind the student that they started an application but have not submitted the application to the specific college
    2. Provide links back to OpenCCCApply for use cases: : 
      1. Link to My Applications page and RESUME the application process. 
      2. Return to My Applications page and delete the application in-progress.
    3. Provide links and information to - alternately - contact the college directly for assistance (to College Admissions contact information that currently appears on the confirmation page, including College name, college URL, Admissions Contact and Admissions phone and email)
    4. Provide links to OpenCCC Helpdesk and
  5. If after 7 days from start of application process the student still has not submitted the application, send Email #2 with similar links and information.
  6. Phase II: Allow colleges control over message text and dynamic content through enhanced functionality built into the new CCC Administrator Messaging Module.
  7. Phase III: TBD.  Colleges want access to in-progress, unsubmitted application data to better provide support and services to prospect students. This phase involves challenging the current privacy policy and working with CCCCO and State Legal entities to better understand and potentially modify our policy interpreting FERPA.

Approved Implementation Phases & Objectives

PhaseDescriptionDevelop & MaintainGrow: Future Enhancement(s)

Phase 1

Release 6.0 (Mar 31, 2017)

System-generated, Generic Email Messages Templates for Unsubmitted Un-submitted Applications

Enhance the CCCApply in-progress application database/server with logic to identify unsubmitted applications and auto-send one or two email message reminders to students who start a CCCApply application but do not complete/submit within a determined period of time.

Email #1: Send after 24hours

Email #2: Send after 7 days.

Phase 1 functionality can legally send reminder emails from CCCApply (a state agency) but will reference the college and include college Admissions Office contact information, configured through settings in the College tab of the CCCApply AdmiinistratorAdministrator. Content of the emails is determined in collaboration with the CCCApply Steering Committee.

Primary objective is to follow-up and provide encouragement to students who may need assistance with the application process, and maintaining compliance with FERPA and other privacy laws and regulations. Emails are sent by CCCApply but will reference the College and include college Admissions Office contact, phone and email address, and encourage the student to contact the college directly for assistance with the admission process.

Secondary objectives include:

  • Reduce number of abandoned applications by sending reminders to students who have started applications but failed to complete and submit the application;
  • Help students understand that they haven't submitted an admission application when they completed their OpenCCC accounts;
  • Reminder to students who have forgotten to complete their applications and submit;
  • Help students return to the My Applications page which they may not know how to return to;
  • Provide support to students who may need assistance completing the application
  • Provide a link to the OpenCCC Account Recovery system for students who cannot remember their Account sign-in credentials and thus abandon the process;
  • Offer encouragement to students who are wavering on whether to apply to college or not

Initially these reminder messages will be sent via email; however, once OpenCCC and CCCApply servers have moved on to Amazon Web Services, Text Messaging can also be used for outreach, reminders, and alerts.

Proposed Enhancement:
Set Messaging Preferences in MyOpenCCC Account

Future enhancement for MyOpenCCC: Students will set their messaging preferences in their "MyOpenCCC" account settings. Options will include Email, Text, Mail, and/or MyPath Inbox messaging.

Phase 2 & Phase 3

titleClick here to read more ...

Phases:  Description, Objective, Future Enhancements

PhaseDeploymentDescriptionObjectivesFuture Enhancements
Phase 2CCCApply 3.0

(New development scheduled to begin Fall 2017. ) 

Enhance Functionality in Administrator for Pre-Submission College Configured Messaging from Multiple College Departments

Colleges can customize the email message sent to unsubmitted applications via messaging center developed in the new CCC Administrator (2.0) currently under-development. Using same logic in place to detect unsubmitted apps, colleges will have more control of integrated text/language, dynamic content, hyperlinks, tables, graphs, images, and other features, configurable by the College.
Timeline: 2018 

In addition to the objectives listed above, this phase of implementation offers more control to the college to customize the language and dynamic content in the messages sent to the student.

College will be able to leverage more advanced logic and application data fields into the email body;

Through Admin configurable settings, colleges can have more functionality, more control over the messaging, ability to use logic to custom message, configure when the messages are sent and set the contacts and the


fields rules engine, machine learning and other and can

Enhance CCCApply and MyPath With Functionality to Better Message Students About


Un-submitted Application

This level of functionality is dependent on the release of the new CCC Administrator 2.0, and the new CCCApply 3.0 version being implemented into MyPath (going to RFP in


February 2017).

Phase 3
College is given access to in-progress application data in order to provide better support for student needs.Colleges Want Access to In-Progress/
Un-submitted Applications). Steering approved requests to "investigate (research) and review FERPA policies, Title 5, and other state and federal regulations to better understand our rights, regulations and responsibilities at the college level relative to accessing student information and data prior to submission of CCCApply application in order to:
  1. access in-progress application data to provide support to students (nudge to complete app process);
  2. review Terms of Use policies for CCCApply and OpenCCC to investigate options to revise language to obtain student consent prior to "submission" of application (possibly get consent after OpenCCC account creation), and
  3. explore development options to revise OpenCCC or CCCApply options become available (i.e., develop mechanism in the Administrator to look up in-progress apps, and access/contact students).

Outcome: Stephanie moved to approve request to investigate and review current policies prohibiting access to student data in in-progress,
un-submitted CCCApply applications - for the purpose of supporting students who have established a relationship with the college by starting the application process. Request will include sub-committee working with CCCCO Legal and other regulatory agencies to propose changes to Terms of Use or other changes to give colleges access to their prospect students. (Phase I: Investigation/research and report back to committee on findings. If approved, revisions will be made to the CCCApply and OpenCCC Privacy Policies and enhancements will be built into the CCC Administrator to allow colleges access to in-progress data (from in-progress database) and functionality to configure custom messages (on screen) and/or custom email messages. Requirements to be determined.

Technical Change Specifications

titleClick here for the Technical Change Specifications...

1Create logic to send up to 2 reminder emails to the student regarding an unsubmitted, in-progress CCCApply applicationTechnical tasks to be determined
2Create and send "Email #1" IF application has not been submitted (to any college) after 24 hours of starting a new application.

Content of Email #1:

  • Email template should be personalized: Hello <firstname>!
  • Body of email should include a link to My Applications and encouragement to resume and submit today.
  • Link to college website and Admissions Office contact, email, phone.

Message Content for Email #1See Change Requirements below.
3Create and send "Email #2" IF application has still not been submitted (to any college) after 7 Days of starting an application

Content of Email #2

Second (and final) email reminder sent after 7 days without submission.
Slightly stronger encouragement language with additional Help information to drive the student to either complete the application or remove/delete the application from their My Applications page after 7 days;

  • More encouragement to "Get Help"
  • Link to return to My Applications and resume,
  • Link to ""
  • Link to OpenCCC Helpdesk Phone & Email

Message content for Email #2See Change Requirements below
4Create ability to track emails?

Add Google Analytics to email links

(Not included in scope of this development work).

5Use new CCCApply Logo

Proposed Message Content for Email #1 - 24 hours


REPLY TO:  <Use same Reply To address used in OpenCCC Account Confirmation email>

SUBJECT:  Reminder: Your CCCApply Application To <college_name> Has Not Been Submitted 

LOGO:  <See logo below>

HEADLINE: IMPORTANT:  Your CCCApply Admission Application to {College_Name} Still Needs to Be Submitted!

BODY:  <See below>

IMPORTANT:  Your CCCApply Admission Application to {College_Name} Still Needs to Be Submitted!

Hi <firstname>,

Thank you for considering <college_name>.  This is a reminder that the CCCApply application you started yesterday was not completed and still needs to be submitted.


To resume your application, return to your My Applications page in CCCApply. Find your in-progress application in the "Applications in Progress" table and click "Resume".

Need help completing your application?  Contact the Admissions Office at:


Thank you for considering {college_name}. Support representatives at the Admissions Office are available to assist you.

Did you forget your OpenCCC Account password?

Click here to recover your username or reset your password.

Or contact the OpenCCC Helpdesk for assistance:

OpenCCC Helpdesk
Call Toll-Free:  (877) 247-4836

Having trouble completing the application online?

Contact <college_name> to request a paper application from the Admissions Office at <admission_phone>, or email us at <admission_email>. 

Proposed Message Content for Email #2 - 7 Days


REPLY TO:  <Use same Reply To as OpenCCC Account Confirmation email>

SUBJECT LINE:  Final Reminder: Your CCCApply Application to <college_name> Still Needs To Be Submitted 

LOGO:  < See logo below and attached >

Important! Your Admission Application to <college_name> Is Still Waiting to Be Submitted In CCCApply

Hi <firstname>,

The CCCApply application you started a week ago for {college_name} was never finished or submitted.

Ready to resume?

If you're ready to resume your application, return to your My Applications <My Applications> page and find your in-progress application in the “Applications in Progress” table. Click "Resume" to complete all pages and submit.

How can we help?  Please contact the <college_name> Admissions Office directly for assistance:


Did you forget your OpenCCC Account password?

Click here to recover your username or reset your password. <account recover url>

Or contact the Helpdesk. Support representatives will answer your call in 30 seconds or less.

OpenCCC Helpdesk
Call Toll-Free:  (877)247-4836

Did you know?

  • If you are a current or former foster youth, under age 25 and currently living in California, you are eligible for special residency consideration and priority registration.

  • If you are currently under age 25 and have been determined homeless by an authorized agency anytime within the last 24 months, you may be eligible for priority registration.

  • If you, or your parent/guardian/spouse, are a current or former member of the US military, currently stationed in California, or discharged within the last 3 years, you may be eligible for special residency consideration.

Be sure to report this information on the Residency page in the application, or contact the college Admissions Office for assistance.

24/7 Online Support

Need an answer to your question after hours? Ask any question, any time, about...

  • Financial aid               
  • Online courses
  • Transfer
  • Applying to college
  • Degree planning
  • and more...

Click here for CCCHelp.Info: People-Powered Support for the California Community Colleges  <>

Having trouble completing the online application?

Please contact <college_name> and request a paper application from the Admissions Office.

<< End Email #2 Language >>

Steering Needs (December 6 Meeting)

  1. Confirmation of the legalities that colleges can not access student in-progress application data (which federal or state law, is it FERPA for sure?) (Steering)
  2. Content of the generic email message(s) (Steering)
  3. Content of the college specific template (we create the template and allow colleges to complete the template) (Steering)
  4. Confirmation of the number of days or amount of time that the in-progress app sits before the email goes out (Steering)
  5.  Need to understand the use case for wanting the <app id> shown in the email. Perhaps it would be useful for help desk reps. We could also modify the table in My Applications to show the appid as well.

Suggestions for language in the email from CCCApply...


Email subject line:  Action Required: Submit Your CCCApply Application
(Patty rec'd an email from a website (Resume where I had started a resume on their site, but never finished it. The email nudged me to return to the site and finish the resume. The body of the email included 4 bullet point reasons why it's a good idea to finish the resume, link to the resume, contact information for questions, etc. 
For un-submitted applications we want to make sure we include <college_name> <app_id> personalized email <firstname>+<lastname> and snippet of information to contact the college if they have any questions about college-specific application or registration information. 

What benefits do we want students to know during nudging?

  • No "application" fee to apply to the California Community Colleges
  • Help available for applying for financial aid - Financial Aid is available 
  • OpenCCC Helpdesk / Call Center Toll Free Number and Email address

What do we want our "Email nudges" to convey and include?

  • Link back to My Applications to resume application
  • Link to Account Recovery 
  • Link to CCCApply "Help" page?  
  • Your application can be resumed at any time
  • Once your application has been processed, 

Research & Supporting Documentation

titleClick here to see Research links & docs...

Awesome article from EducationWeekly about "Nudging Students" to stay on task for various college deadlines:

<<Research has shown that simple text reminders can help ensure that students who've been accepted to college actually take the steps to enroll. Missing that crucial step can mean a missed connection to higher education. Educators are now experimenting with using texts to send reminders about a variety of college-related tasks.

The White House has gotten on board, too. 
First lady Michelle Obama's "Better Make Room" campaign includes a feature called "Up Next," which allows students, families, and counselors to request a series of text messages that will prod them with questions about how they're doing in their search for colleges, applying, and getting financial aid. Once they've enrolled in college, they get messages that try to connect them to helpful campus resources. And after they graduate, the messages shift focus on helping them work out their loan repayments.

Data on Text vs. Email


titleClick here to read more ...

<<Text messaging is a promising approach to inform students of college-related tasks and to connect them to professional help when they need assistance. It is the predominant means by which young people communicate with each other. Whereas only six percent of teens exchange emails and 39 percent talk via mobile phones, 63 percent send texts on a daily basis (Lenhardt, 2012). Further, counselors who staffed the prior summer interventions cited texting as the most effective means of contacting students (Arnold et al, in progress). In addition, texting is a potentially cost-effective means to provide information and connect students to assistance. In the text message intervention discussed in this paper, for example, the marginal cost of each message was $0.01. Moreover, text-based outreach may increase counselors’ efficiency. >>

Research on Student Behavioral Challenges Related to Attending College

<< Recent behavioral research suggests that people often over-weight immediate costs, both monetary and non-monetary, and forego investments that would be in their long-term interest (see, for example, Chabris, Laibson, & Schuldt, 2008). Faced with the time and cognitive burdens associated with college and financial aid applications, for example, students may delay addressing or abandon a key step in the admissions process — particularly if the alternative is something more enticing in the present moment (Madrian & Shea, 2001; Beshears et al, 2012; Scott-Clayton, 2011). Thus, even minor cost and process barriers may deter qualified students from successfully applying to and enrolling in college, despite a high probability that the lifetime benefits of higher education would far outweigh short-term investments.

With a text platform, message delivery can be automated and content can be personalized to individual students and their postsecondary plans, Castleman – Summer Nudging EdPolicyWorks Working Paper Series No. 9. April 2013. Available at Curry School of Education | Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy | University of Virginia 7 eliminating the need for counselors to invest substantial time conducting student outreach and ensuring that outreach can occur on a schedule that aligns well with when students are available (e.g. nights and weekends).

Personalized text messages could improve successful matriculation among college-intending students via several potential mechanisms. As we note above, it may be an efficient strategy for connecting students to counselors who can assist them to address summer obstacles that arise. Enabling students to request assistance via text mitigates several potential barriers to help-seeking. For instance, in schools where counselors have large caseloads and minimal time to focus on college planning, students may lack personal relationships with counselors (Civic Enterprises, 2012).

Without a personal connection, students may be unlikely to initiate contact over the summer. In contrast, taking up the offer of help by responding to a text message may require considerably less interpersonal effort. Personalized text messages may also inform students of required tasks about which they were unaware and/or may simplify the steps required to complete these tasks.

With a modest investment of time to assemble the required tasks and deadlines for institutions most common among each partner district’s graduates, we consolidated the set of required summer tasks into a series of ten institution-specific text message reminders. Most of the messages included institution and task-specific web links that guide students directly to the web page relevant to a given task (e.g. registering for orientation).

Finally, the text messages may impact students’ college outcomes simply by nudging them to complete required tasks at the appropriate time during the summer. Personalized messaging effectively may turn adolescents’ greatest liability during the college choice process—their impulsiveness—into an asset.2

By providing simplified information and task-specific links, each message potentially allows completion of required steps in the moment, before students’ attention is otherwise diverted.

For several reasons, socioeconomically disadvantaged students may be particularly prone to behavioral challenges related to attending college.

  • First, the intricacy of the college application process itself may contribute to the persistence of gaps in college entry and success by socioeconomic status (Hoxby & Turner, 2013, Ross et al., 2013).
  • Second, the complexity of the federal financial aid application may prevent students from obtaining the substantial federal, state, and institutional grant aid for which they are eligible (Bettinger et al, 2012; Dynarski & Scott-Clayton, 2006). The process of applying for financial aid is often even  more difficult for the lowest-income students, compared to their middle income peers, because atypical income streams and household circumstances often trigger additional financial-aid related tasks, such as federally-mandated verification of the information students provide on their FAFSA (authors). Therefore, in the process of applying to college, the lowest income students are required to complete a broader array of complex tasks, furthering the probability of behavioral responses that lead them to put off or abandon entirely college and financial aid applications. 
  • Third, students from disadvantaged backgrounds often have to devote their time and energy to addressing immediate stressors like supporting their families financially or dealing with neighborhood violence (Casey, Jones, & Somerville, 2011; Keating, 2004; Steinberg, 2008, 2009); the experience of dealing with scarcity on a daily basis may lead them to be particularly sensitive to incurring even seemingly small costs, such as those associated with college applications (Mullainathan & Shafir, 2013). Fourth, they are less likely to have access to college-educated family members or college counselors who can help them weigh short-term investments against long-term gains (authors; Schneider, 2009).