How Higher Education is Using Remote Online Notarization

On college and university campuses, there’s no going back to how things were pre-pandemic. One hundred percent in-person, onsite attendance for students, faculty and staff is a thing of the past.

A recent virtual gathering of more than 100 college and university presidents hosted by education company EAB demonstrated that higher education is ready to embrace both hybrid learning and hybrid administration as essential parts of the student experience. A poll of the presidents in attendance found that almost half plan to keep more than a quarter of classes online post-pandemic.

Everyone involved in higher ed wants to maintain flexibility around when and how they work, which calls for digital-first teaching and administrative methods.

And these include the ability to remotely notarize student, alumni and staff documentation, such as enrollment verifications, transcript requests, major donor disbursements and a variety of other documents.

Traditional notary processes are inefficient

On most campuses, there are a few notaries public scattered around various locations—typically in the registrar’s office, the bursar’s office and in the student service center.

But having a document notarized through them requires a physical visit, is often time-consuming and is difficult to orchestrate when third parties—such as a witness or an additional signer—need to be involved. Even more so when a university governor, chancellor or president is part of the notary process.

Staff members lose productivity. Students lose study time and flexibility. And retired staff who need to be involved in officially signing and then notarizing a student transcript are often out of the area and unable to attend in-person. Similarly, alumni who might need a duplicate or digital diploma authorized and sent may now live outside the country.

Further, each office has to manage and bear the cost of notary-related assets, such as

physical documents, ink pads for signer thumbprints, logbooks for record-keeping, and copy machines for making duplicates.

Considering the inconvenience, loss of productivity and cost of notarizing in person and on paper, the benefits of a remote online notarization solution become even more clear.

New forms of electronic notarization are here

Legal recognition of remote online notarization (RON) in the majority of states nationwide is paving the way for a new era of notarization in higher education, as more staff and students adopt consistently hybridized ways of teaching, learning and administering. 

At the same time, additional state legislatures continue to enact permanent RON laws and regulations, recognizing remote notarization as a viable alternative to in-person notarizations.

Proven RON platforms, combined with audio-visual technologies, are making it easier and more convenient than ever for students, staff and even campus businesses to have a great notarial experience. All remotely.

How does RON work? 

RON enables the remote notarization of your campus documents, via an encrypted audio-visual session where your notary can meet your signers virtually. Signers’ identities are verified using secure identity proofing technologies to mitigate the risk of identity fraud.

Signers and the notary electronically sign the document in real-time, while your notary is able to complete their electronic notarial journal and apply their digital seal on the document—completing the notarial transaction. Once the notarization is completed, the notary then has access to the notarial evidence, including the audio-visual recording and the electronic notarial journal.  

Common RON uses in colleges & universities 

If you haven’t already started, you can begin modernizing your notary processes today, using RON. Here are a few examples of how your campus can benefit:

For students:

  • Gain proof of coursework and enrollment. The most common use of notarization on campuses today is proof of coursework, which usually involves students returning to their home country or relocating to another country. They often need notarized confirmation of classes completed for transfer credit. Also, PhD students looking to do a portion of their thesis work in another country need notarized proof of enrollment.
  • Grant apostilles for document usage outside the US. An apostille is made by the Secretary of State, verifying the authenticity of a public-official signature on a document to be used in another country. Before you can request an apostille from the Secretary of State, your document will need to be notarized.
  • Access enterprise labs for research. Research contracts conducted by outside firms often employ graduate-level students as researchers. In order to access the facilities—whose tests can involve animal or human subjects, or toxic chemicals— students must present a notarized proof of college enrollment.

For faculty and staff:

  • Authenticate restricted-access tokens. Some students and staff need access to sensitive campus technologies or restricted areas—such as labs and vehicle test sites—to perform research. RON allows token administrators to easily notarize the tokens themselves, as well as their supporting documents.
  • Secure large donations. Because of the typical sums of money involved, universities often want to notarize a Proof of Funds document, prior to a donor’s transfer of money—and the college’s announcement of the gift.
  • Gain property easements. An easement is the legal right to use property you don’t own. In a university context, a common form is the right to use a parking area shared with a private development. Negotiate with the landowner, draft the easement, then notarize and file it with your county’s Recorder of Deeds.

For third parties:

  • Confirm degrees earned. Sadly, fraud is prevalent on a number of resumes these days. Companies often need to verify a prospective employee’s degree through a notarized copy of their diploma before extending an offer.
  • Obtain liquor licenses. Campus student centers, bars and restaurants each need to qualify for and notarize a liquor license in order to profit from alcohol sold to students, faculty and staff.

Presenting DocuSign Notary

With DocuSign Notary, college or university notaries in supported states can now securely conduct remote notarizations, using electronic notarization tools that include e-signature and an encrypted audio-video session.

DocuSign Notary empowers you to:

  • Deliver a convenient experience to your students, staff, alumni and 3rd-party organizations, as they can now remotely sign and notarize agreements. This saves them the time and logistical hassles of meeting a notary public in person. 
  • Mitigate risk with a robust audit trail, including a tamper-evident Certificate of Completion, audio-visual recording and electronic journal.
  • Mitigate the risk of identity fraud through secure identity verification and knowledge-based authentication technology.

All of this is built on DocuSign eSignature, making it easy for you to send, sign and notarize agreements with DocuSign.

Learn more about DocuSign Notary here. Or, if you’re ready to streamline your university notary services with remote online notarization now, contact Sales.