UHEAA Case Study 2015

The Organization

UESPThe Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA), a subsidiary of the Utah State Board of Regents, administers Utah’s student financial aid programs. UHEAA’s mission includes comprehensive outreach and information program to assist citizens in planning for and financing postsecondary education.

The Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) was established in 1996 as a nonprofit, tax-advantaged college savings program to help parents, grandparents, and others save for loved ones’ future college expenses.

A leader in the college savings industry, UESP is regarded as one of the best 529 plans in the nation for its low fees, flexibility, and variety of investment options. In October 2014, Morningstar Inc., rated UESP a Gold 529 college savings plan, calling UESP a leader in providing low cost investments. Tens of thousands of Utah and non-Utah residents alike benefit from UESP’s mission to provide a low-cost educational savings plan while enjoying tax advantages. As of December 31, 2014, UESP held more than $8 billion in assets under management in more than 273,000 accounts.

The Challenge

In order to reduce costs, UHEAA wanted to replace their management software for the Utah State 529 College Savings Plan with a more efficient, lower cost alternative while improving on core functionality. In short, the goal was to get more, but spend less.

As the investor base grew, it became necessary to improve business processes to more accurately track complex financial data and to improve customer satisfaction through better investment tracking.

The Solution

Spring2 Technologies began the process by evaluating the legacy technology. They developed a solution designed to preserve key functionality while upgrading the system to take full advantage of efficiencies brought by an updated architecture.

Spring2 utilized pre-built components to develop an n-tier system that isolated the complex business logic from both the database and the interface components. This allows easy manipulation of the fund management business logic without making database or interface changes. Conversely the system can now easily migrate to different back-end database technologies. Spring2 simplified the data entry process by utilizing a user-story based design methodology vs. an ad-hoc transaction based approach.

A single interface was developed and designed to utilize the mid-tier fund management layer to better meet business objectives. Specifically, the business logic layer shares information from a central data store, through a single interface, with both internal and external users. Maintenance of this data sharing is highly flexible allowing as much or as little information to be exposed to external users as needed. The solution included other enhancements such as:

  • Re-engineered the business processes to decrease month-end reporting time.
  • Improved communication and integration with accounting, automating accounting interfaces for fund disbursements and for fund transfers and investment options.
  • Remove functionality that was not used or not needed for a more efficient system.
  • Improved system security and audit trail capabilities.
  • Developed secure web interface for user account management.
  • Integration with Microsoft Money® and Intuit Quicken®.

The Results

  • Technology scaled to manage fund growth from $900 million to over $8 billion in assets.
  • Among the lowest management fees in the nation for a 529 Plan; in part due to the partnership and solutions provided by Spring2 Technologies.
  • Easy database migration – transferring application from Oracle to SQL server happens only at data access layer.
  • Maintain internal data entry speed and improved efficiency.
  • More efficient data entry – more accounts can be set up and more business can be transacted with fewer people.
  • More satisfied customer base through improved interfaces and better reporting.
  • More accurate fund accounting and expense tracking.
  • More accurate transaction tracking and logging.
  • Automated internal fund transfers.