The Month In Review: December 2020 Feature Releases 7365

The Month In Review: December 2020 Feature Releases


While we may now find ourselves in 2021, we need to take one last look back at December 2020. Here’s everything we released last month for the Education management products.

Welcome back, I hope your holiday season was memorable and amazing! As promised, we’re back in full swing over here with the Education management team, with a whole slew of new and cool things to talk about real soon.

However, for this week’s blog, we’re taking one last look at 2020. I’m sorry, I know the vast majority of us would love to forget 2020 was even a thing, but in order to move forward, let us take one final look at everything that came out in December for the Education management products. I promise, no more 2020 talk after this. Let’s go!

Per usual, Academics had a lot going on during the month of December.

Some quality of life updates were made to allow the help panel to be usable when working on a transcript or report card template. Now, you won’t have to save and back out to use the help system. In addition, we continued to add targeted help options. On the Requests and schedules overview page, you will now see question mark icons on the Master schedule, Course requests, and Student schedule tiles.

We also gave scheduling administrators the ability to sort requested courses based on course preference. To access this, head to Scheduling, then Requests and schedules. Open the Student enrollment tab, then select the Edit icon next to a student’s name. Open the Sort menu and choose Course preference (first – last). Alternate course requests will be sorted by order of preference, then by alphabetical order.
Other updates this month include:
  • You can now use the Students list to see the dates when former students departed the school.
  • Previously, the Score and Label data were included in a single column. This information will now be in two separate columns, one for Mastery score and the other for Label.
  • The buttons on the Assignment center and Assignments list are now consistently listed as Add, Filter, Columns, Reports, and More. Search will always appear at the end.
  • On the Students list, the Withdrawal reason column will now display information for students who have pending withdrawals.
  • Administrators can now indicate the reason for a student’s withdrawal. 
The Core team was also quite busy in December with a lot of new content being added and even began to make Dashboard Builder available to schools throughout the month. The team also created an online forum specifically for Dashboard Builder and Insight Designer. All schools interested are encouraged to join, discuss best practices with other users, share ideas, and learn more about how to get started. Log in with your Blackbaud ID at

This month also saw an under the hood change to replace the Flash based service that handled user files uploaded to Core. The changes made were to ensure that schools could continue to upload files, that completed jobs appeared in a history log, and when users access user profiles that the uploaded files appeared as expected with the designated folder and file name. 
In addition, Core also released:
  • Administrators can now edit the withdrawal information for a student who has withdrawn from the school.
  • The reporting navigation also changed a bit as well to differentiate the number of available reports. This includes SKY lists, Basic Lists, Advanced lists, and Legacy reports.
  • When a platform manager views their Home page in Core, one or two new tiles about Blackbaud ID appear. 
Enrollment management
In the month of December, the EMS gave admissions managers the ability to run a Committee Review Report under Admissions or the Committee Review Category. This report is intended to show Committee Review summaries for a particular candidate or groups of candidates and display information such as the committee review name, members, as well as candidate last names.

Contracts also got a lot of attention this month. Admissions managers now have an archive option when editing a contract type as well as filters for type statuses and archived states. Candidates now have their answers to the login/apply optional questions processed when their account is created. Finally, when editing a contract form, re/enrollment managers can now add a school signature image, text, or both. This signature will be applied at processing and anyone printing a contract will now see that signature.
In addition, the EMS product also gained the following updates in December:
  • Admissions managers now have new filters on the Candidate List for the Custom Candidate fields. 
  • Admissions managers can now view the entering year inside of the Process file submissions page. 
  • From Application forms then Login setup under Admissions Setup, admissions managers can set optional questions and make them required if needed. These include International, Boarding/Day, School program, and Preferred name.
  • When completing a Blackbaud Tuition Management contract, responsible signers will now see E-mail me an invoice instead of Mail me an invoice as a Payment Method.
  • Admissions managers can add a GPA question to the sending schools block on an Application or Inquiry form. When processing an inquiry or application, the GPA is now included in the Sending School tab.  
School website
This month, the School website team added the option to password protect your web pages. When creating or editing a website page, use the Password Protection section from the settings to set a password, and custom error message. When a visitor attempts to access this page, they’re now prompted to enter the matching password. Guess wrong and the custom error message now appears along with the prompt to enter the password again.

In addition, the Inbox got an important quality of life update. When creating a new inbox message, users can now add a subject line to help differentiate messages when viewing the history.

Tuition management/SmartAid
Another busy month for the Tuition management (formerly Smart Tuition) and SmartAid teams. This month we made Blackbaud ID single sign on available for Tuition management users.

This month featured a major update to a change in federal regulations regarding debit policies. Federal law gives account holders the right to stop automatic payments from their account, even if they previously agreed to allow automatic debits. Previously, schools could re-instate automatic debits in Smart Tuition after they were stopped. Since December 14, 2020, Schools can no longer reinstate automatic debits that were stopped at the account holder’s instruction. If the account holder requests a 1 month stop, they’ll automatically resume on the next due date. If an account holder requests a permanent block be removed, schools should instruct the account holder to the portal or call the Parent Contact Center (888-868-8828) to reinstate their auto debit. If the account holder requests for all payments to be stopped, primary banking or credit card information is also removed from the account.  

If you have any questions regarding this communication, please contact Support for assistance. 

Custom reports were also a big focus of the Tuition management team. When you create or edit a custom activity report, you can now include text messages as a Communication type. The subject of the text becomes the Communication reason. The message’s status becomes the Communication status and appears in the history of the text. In addition, when you create or edit a custom activity report, you can now select to show additional fields and filters and we renamed the following fields:
  • Missing telephone numbers (previously called “invalid/blank telephone numbers”)
  • Missing email (previously called “invalid/blank emails address”)
  • Missing addresses (previously called “invalid/blank postal address”)
SmartAid also made a big change to budgets in December as well. Schools have always had the ability to create budgets for their grants and scholarships to award their students. Now, Enterprises can create and maintain budgets for all of their schools! To access Enterprise Budgets, use the Schools drop down to select All Schools then select Budgets followed by Manage Budgets.
Other updates this month include:
  • Although federal regulations prevent the school from reinstating automatic debits, schools can use a new static report to track which accounts have recently stopped these payments. Find the new report in the Cash Flow Reports category.
  • (SmartAid) The Federal tax return has been renamed to 1040 US Individual Income Tax Return inside of the Parent Welcome, Parent Documentation, School Documents, School Review pages, as well as the Missing Documents Report.
  • When you create or edit a custom billing/accrual report, you’ll now select discounts and fees as report criteria in the first step instead of the second step.
  • (SmartAid) Under general School Settings, we’ve added an Include Appeal option once Show Award Responses has been set to Yes.
  • (SmartAid) Verified date on a report is no longer updated each time an application is changed.
  • (SmartAid) An Enrollment Status filter has been added to the View budgets page as well as when you Add or Edit a budget.
  • (SmartAid) In order to show changes in the students eligible for a grant or budget, all students added to or removed from the budget will be recorded in an audit table along with the Date/Time, Grant ID, Student/application session ID, Action (Added/Removed), Award amount released, Previous budget remaining amount, and reason.
If you want the full and complete details of everything we’ve added to the Education management products in December, make sure to
visit our What’s New letter. Use the Recent option at the top of the page to view past and archived releases. Want to stay updated whenever we have a new release? Get notified via email by signing up for our mailing list here.

That's going to do it for this week, but make sure to bookmark this page and subscribe if you haven't already because we're hitting the ground running in 2021. We've got a lot of great stuff lined up, so make sure to come back next week when we dive into our next topic. Thanks for reading everyone!

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I have the Admissions Manager role, but I'm not seeing Login settings under Admissions Set up. Where can I find this section? Thanks!
Hey Connie,

Sorry for the mixup, I've updated the post. The path is actually Admissions Setup, Application forms, and then Login Setup.