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Case Study: The CollegeSense.com Micro-Site Makes School Savings Simpler

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A lot of life happens between the time a child begins teething and when they’re ready to pack up their first coffee maker and head off to college. As most parents know, the daunting question of how to pay for that college education begins right around the time those first teeth come in. With higher tuition costs rising at twice the rate of inflation, the financial challenge of paying for a child’s education is becoming a stressful rite of passage for parents. According to The College Board, the projected cost of college in 15 years will be more than $100,000 for a four-year public college and more than $200,000 for a four-year private college. Those figures are certainly enough to keep anyone up at night.

In order to address this growing concern, 529 plans-named after section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code-were created to encourage saving for future higher education expenses while reaping tax advantages. The details of each plan are governed by state legislation, offering significant savings primarily for in-state residents. One such 529 savings program is CollegeSense, managed by Evergreen Investment Management Company, the asset management division of Wachovia Bank.

Evergreen took over as the plans administrator in January 2005 and decided to upgrade the administrative functionality of the CollegeSense Web site so that it would be easier to update by employees throughout the company. The primary challenge for Blue Fish: transform a static site into a dynamic one with an intuitive and easy-to-use content management system. With this kind of technological overhaul, site updates would be trouble-free and thereby provide the most current information for CollegeSense users at all times. The Evergreen team turned to Blue Fish for the upgrade.

Because the former site was predominantly static, Evergreen users wanting to make content modifications-whether creating a new Web page or make a small change within the text had to ask a programmer in the IT department for help. Therefore, IT resources weren’t being used effectively to support other strategic software development needs within the company. In order to make the site’s content management more dynamic, Blue Fish employed a variety of tools, including Navigation Manager, which works in tandem with Documentum Web Publisher. With the new content management system in place, Evergreen users make site changes by using basic administrative tools. The technology helps to ensure changes are made consistently throughout the site, improving content accuracy and overall usability. The net result: the amount of work required to make updates is greatly reduced, so the overall business operates more seamlessly.

This dynamic CollegeSense site also makes it easier for Evergreen to maintain a reliable record of changes for the audit process required by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). As a part of standard federal and state regulations, the company must show what the site’s content looked like during a specific window of time (similar to how an individual provides a tangible trail of receipts when audited by the Internal Revenue Service). With the new system, the company is able to maintain a consistent and updated audit record for these purposes. Without this kind of record, a significant amount of manpower-and headache-would be required to recreate an accurate representation of these records. Instead, all of this information is available on a continuous, electronic basis.

“It was important for Evergreen that they maintain the look and feel of their site,” explains Bryant Bonner, Web Content Management Practice Manager at Blue Fish. “Although we completely replaced the back-end, a visitor to the site would never know it.” In the end, Blue Fish built a Web site for Evergreen that is easier to manage and update, freeing IT resources to focus on higher value problems.

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