In University Business' recent article about the TCPA changes and the affect it has on using voice broadcasting and text messages they address the issue of requiring consent during what is effectively the student lead generation process.
We've helped with this specific issue while working with the University of Louisville's prospective student communication process by allowing students to opt-in through their prospective student forms (credit to them for beginning this process years before TCPA forced them to do so). The article's point to require consent from online forms cannot be stressed enough. As the article states "Capturing the IP address of people who submit forms provices an extra level of protection" is also a great idea.
What the article missed was how schools need to navigate the TCPA when contacting currently enrolled students. These communications, especially to cell phones, might seem harmless because they are currently attending the school, however, the TCPA does not make that an exception. What we are seeing from universities to ensure compliance with the TCPA is to place required consent to receive calls in the university's student agreements, particularly their financial agreement. These agreements must be agreed to prior to registering for an upcoming semester. Using these agreements, universities gain permission to utilize automated calling and text messaging to reach students for admissions, financial aid and overdue tuition notices. Without the consent, colleges and universities would be losing the efficiency within their departments.
Note: While we have seen other universities use their student agreements, we recommend that departments consult with their school's counsel to verify the language in the agreement meets TCPA requirements.