2016-05: Set Authorized Text Message Opt-In Default to Yes in Account

Request No.2016-05
Date of Request1.20.16
RequesterSierra College
Julia Arreguy 
Section / Page


Steering Approval StatusApproved/Deferred
Steering Hearing Date5.11.16
Proposed Change to Download FileNo
Proposed Change to Residency LogicNo

Problem / Issue

The problem is that students are not opting in to authorize Text Messaging in OpenCCC Account.  Colleges are reporting low opt-in rates (1% in some cases). Looking for a way to increase this authorization rate and start utilizing text messaging for primary messaging for students. Need a low-effort quick fix in the legacy application and develop it out in 3.0.

 Read more from the original change request and related notes....

Colleges are asking that the Authorized Text Message Opt-In checkbox for both Phone Number fields in the OpenCCC Account be set to "Yes" by default if a phone number is entered in the field. Meaning, if a phone number is entered in Phone 1 field, then set Auth Text Message default to Yes (Opt-in).  Same for the Phone 2 field. If a number is entered (if the field is not empty) then default the corresponding Auth Text Msg to "check" or "yes" or "True" (Patty to review data dictionary for correct field format).

College is reporting that - at their college - less than 1% of students are Opting In (yes) to the Authorized Text Message checkbox field for phone numbers entered. This may be a result of laziness; perhaps they are not reading the question and since the field is not required they are skipping over it. This request is to set default in these fields to Yes IF they enter a phone number. The student would then have to Opt-Out. The goal is to enourage more students to Opt-In for text messaging. Colleges are using this field as confirmation from students to send college messaging via text message (College System Alerts).

<< I would like you to ask the Open CCCapply steering committee to consider making the texting opt-in/out a required field for all applicants. We have found that fewer than 1% of students are answering the question and this low response rate is impacting our ability to populate our emergency alert system with a high percentage of students. Especially considering the recent tragedies on CC campuses, this topic has been getting a lot of attention.- Julie Arreguy, Sierra College"

Proposed Solution

Proposed solutions for this issue have ranged from: Auto-populating the "Authorized Text Message" opt-in checkbox on the telephone fields in Account; to 2) redesign the phone number fields to include a drop down menu to show response options (to identify the 'type" of phone number). If phone number type is "mobile phone" then auto-pop the "I authorize text message" box and create pop-up validation to confirm authorization to text message "include all text messaging rates apply).

The objective of Steering is to minimize development effort on this for current version of Apply (enhance requirements in 3.0 (UI and process in 3.0.  

 Click here for more discussion notes on proposed solutions...

5.11.16:  Discussion during May 11 Steering meeting revolved around issues and risks in the implementation of this change. Steering says that not knowing whether the phone is a cell/mobile number is also a problem. They also want a  cell phone number field added to the Account, or some way to identify whether the phone number provided is a cell/mobile number.  Tim discouraged steering from adding a new field and encouraged the use supplemental questions to collect this data. He reminded us all that all new data fields mean changes to college download files. 

Patty has a suggestion.  If a phone number is entered in Phone 1 or Phone 2, have a validation pop-up box ask the student if the number is a cell/mobile phone number?  If yes, set default for "Authorized Text Message" to YES or True or checked. If no, keep text message box unchecked (no or false).  This would do double duty. Confirm that if the Authorzed Text message data fields are NOT empty that the phone number is a cell/mobile number.



This is a temporary solution to this issue. It should be redesigned in CCCApply 3.0 with a responsive UI design (phone field with drop down menu, with the option to Opt-In on multiple different telephone types. 

Requirements Summary


In the Main Phone Authorized Text and Second Phone Authorized Text fields - in Account - default set both checkboxes to Yes/True across the board: in Create Account, Edit Account (BOG, IA, and Apply):

  1. Auto-populate "Authorized Text Message" checkbox with a checkmark - Yes

Ensure the check box can be "unchecked" if the student wants to Opt-Out at any time.

Research & Supporting Documentation

How to Become and Stay Compliant When Using Text Messages to Communicate with Students

Why Text Messaging?

First and foremost, a 2014 Harris Poll indicated that 85% of students preferred to communicate via text message when dealing with customer service professionals. Plus, utilizing an SMS (Short Message Service) gives you the ability to keep your faculty and student body informed of events, news, specials deals, etc., happening on or around campus.

If you do choose to go the text messaging route (which we highly suggest), it’s important that you are, and stay compliant with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

 Click here to expand...

We know that one of the biggest reasons colleges and universities shy away from using text messaging is because they are afraid of violating federal rules and regulations. After all, those who violate the TCPA and/or FERPA can end up paying out over $10,000 per infraction, and even lose federal funding.

However, if you choose to work with an SMS company that is aware of, and stays up-to-date with the FCC’s regulations, you will have little to worry about. For example, if you didn’t know, it is required that you receive an “e-signature” from a student to communicate with him or her, as well as market to the student in the future. In fact, Eric Kades, our company’s founder, personally reached out to Department of Education for clarification on this and discovered that this is indeed the case. No ifs, ands, or buts!

When it all comes down to it, you shouldn’t be afraid to consider text messaging as a form of communication with students, alumni, and the faculty at your college or university. Some institutions have already gone this route, and are even seeing many rewards from doing so. In all, if you truly wish to maintain your competitive edge, it’s time to reach out to us to talk about our text messaging service.

To learn more about the federal rules and regulations regarding text message marketing and communication, do not hesitate to reach out to us here at JetSpring.

1Telephone Consumer Protection Act 47 U.S.C. § 227