Educational Institutions: Upgrade Your Fax Environment into the Digital Era

eFax Corporate
5 minute read

For the convenience of its administrators, faculty, and students, Pennsylvania’s Mansfield Commonwealth University lists on its website the locations of each of the school’s fax machines. A review of the page (yes, in late 2023) reveals that there are more than three dozen fax machines positioned throughout the campus – including at university police headquarters, in the financial aid building, and in the offices of the departments of admissions, public relations, and human resources.

For Better or Worse, Academia Still Depends on Faxing

Someone reading this article who’s not in the education field might wonder why a modern university (Mansfield has email, after all, and its professors and students share files using Dropbox) would continue to use faxing to such a degree that the campus maintains more than three dozen desktop fax machines. But as a professional in academia, you know that even today, well into the third decade of the 21st century, schools and universities continue to transmit many of their most important documents by fax. There are several known reasons for this.

1. Because they always have.

Private-sector businesses come and go, but academic institutions are often the oldest and longest-operating organizations in their areas. Mansfield Commonwealth University, founded in 1857, is a perfect example. Like thousands of other educational institutions across the country, the college began building out its faxing infrastructure in the 1980s when the technology first gained widespread popularity.

Today, these institutions (from elementary to the graduate school level) have decades of experience and investment in their fax infrastructures. Also, many of their most senior employees have spent their careers using fax machines for their everyday document exchange processes. Replacing such an integral part of these organizations’ workflows and culture may take some time.

And that leads us to the second reason for fax’s persistence in education.

2. Because the entities they work with still require fax for data exchange.

If your admissions department requires transcripts from a prospective student’s previous schools, you most likely accept those documents by fax. Not because your admissions team prefers paper faxes, but because they know that many schools still prefer to send transcripts by fax.

Moreover, your institution likely still receives important documents from other organizations by fax. Your state’s department of education (or the US Education Department) might send you official forms this way, and physicians’ practices or insurance companies might prefer faxing students’ medical information as opposed to sending it by email.

Government agencies and healthcare organizations, like schools themselves, are among the most prolific users of fax today. As long as these institutions still ask (or demand) to exchange data with your staff via fax, your institution will need to maintain faxing capability as well.

Your Legacy Fax Infrastructure Is Not Secure

But there’s a problem. And we’re not talking about the fact that your analog fax equipment is expensive to maintain. (We’ll discuss that below.)

The more pressing problem is that the typical legacy fax processes are inherently insecure and often fail to meet the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Many of the documents your staff exchanges (in Admissions, Financial Aid, etc.) contain sensitive information about your students and their families. This is precisely the data that FERPA was passed to safeguard. Sending and receiving those documents over a desktop fax machine – where they could sit for hours or days in full view of people unauthorized to see this personal information – can leave your school repeatedly vulnerable to non-compliance with FERPA.

So, it seems your institution is facing a challenge: You need to maintain the ability to send and receive faxes, but your legacy fax environment is outdated, inefficient, insecure, costly, and possibly out of compliance with federal privacy law.

Fortunately, there’s a simple answer, one you can implement today.

The Solution: Secure Cloud Faxing with eFax Corporate

Your educational institution can solve all of these challenges – maintaining the ability to exchange key documents by fax, improving your fax security and compliance, and making your staff’s fax workflows more efficient than ever – by migrating to the right digital cloud fax solution.

That solution is eFax Corporate, the world’s #1 cloud fax platform and the top choice for educational institutions.

The pioneer in cloud faxing technology, eFax has spent nearly 30 years helping small to enterprise-grade organizations in heavily regulated fields, including education, securely send and receive billions of pages of highly sensitive and personal documentation.

Bonus Benefit: eFax Can Lower Your Institution’s Faxing Costs

As we alluded to above, upgrading from a legacy fax infrastructure to the fully-outsourced cloud fax platform from eFax will help you significantly reduce your overall faxing costs.

By implementing eFax across your institution, you won’t need to maintain aging fax machines, on-prem fax servers, analog fax phone lines, or any physical fax hardware. You won’t even need to continue budgeting for toner or ink cartridges and fresh supplies of fax paper. 

Your staff will be able to easily and securely fax documents online, by email, or even from a secure mobile app. No paper handling. No busy signals. No waiting by a fax machine. And no risk of FERPA violations.

Additionally, because eFax offers a pay-as-you-go model and lets you scale capacity up or down anytime, you’ll never again have the common challenges of either bandwidth constraints (because you’re holding off buying more in-house fax servers or fax phone lines) or paying for expensive hardware to ease those constraints and finding that the costly new machines are often sitting idle.

And here’s the truly good news: Deploying the fully outsourced eFax is so simple, and the interface is so user-friendly that you can migrate your organization onto the cloud fax platform, with minimal training needed for your staff.

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