New higher ed financial and enrollment software streamlines processes, reduces costs, and improves compliance

Broadleaf Solutions meets a need for web-based, automated financial planning platform

The Education Corporation of America (ECA) is a privately held company which operates private accredited colleges across the country, including 26 campuses and an online program of Virginia College. ECA provides diplomas, associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in professional programs designed to prepare students for direct entry into the job market. By 2008, the leadership at ECA was looking for an enrollment and financial planning software solution that could better meet their needs. “We were undergoing a rapid expansion, and our existing financial software was inadequate, because we couldn’t accurately gauge our cash flow,” says Roger Miller, who served as chief financial officer and chief operating officer of ECA at the time. “We wanted an automated and paperless system that reduced the level of manpower required, improved cash flow and reduced bad debt in our financial and enrollment processes, and ensured we were meeting Title IV requirements. We looked at every provider of this type of software, and we found them all lacking,” says Miller. “So we decided to develop our own, beginning in 2009.”

“We developed software for our own schools, but it was with the intention that it be made available to the higher ed market in the future,” says Ron Maillette, chief information officer of ECA at the time. “So we developed it to be flexible and compatible with any existing systems at an institution.” The software they developed was called Broadleaf Solutions. The entirely web-based platform includes four solutions, which are available together or separately and integrate with any existing SIS.

The e-Enrollment Solution incorporates step-by-step enrollment processes, best practices, customized workflows and electronic documentation, as well as document management and reporting tools, to improve the entire process of enrollment management. “The e-Enrollment Solution automates the process from the start, with all documentation stored electronically. It includes a real-time dashboard so, at any time, administrators can see where students are in the enrollment process, helping to identify bottlenecks and ways to improve efficiency,” says Miller. “It also frees up admissions staff from a lot of paperwork, providing them with more face-to-face time with students.”

The e-Financial Planning Solution automates the financial planning process, and includes comprehensive reporting features and Title IV compliance services. “One of the strengths of our software is its ability to handle Title IV in a fully automated manner,” says Maillette. “The solution reduces the need for an institution to have Title IV experts, and reduces the amount of manual processes and paperwork required, while ensuring regulatory compliance.” Additionally, a Net Price Calculator solution exceeds Department of Education requirements to provide prospective students with an accurate estimated cost of enrollment. The fourth solution fully automates the interaction with a C.O.D. mailbox. Broadleaf went live at ECA in 2011. “Because of our system architecture, we were able to roll out our solution very quickly,” says Miller. “It went live on over 20 campuses of Virginia College in about 90 days.”

Broadleaf Solutions launched as an independent company in May of 2013, with Maillette and Miller as managing directors. “Our software is highly configurable, so it can be used at any type or size of institution,” says Miller. “Already, the institutions we’re working with have told us that there isn’t another solution like this on the market,” says Maillette. “All schools are looking to find ways to improve efficiency, financial transparency and compliance, automate processes, and maximize the talent of their staff,” says Maillette. “That’s what we’re providing with Broadleaf Solutions.”

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