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3 Colleges Take Funds Disbursement Digital

Financial services and payment company Higher One has signed agreements with three institutions--Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, Lansing Community College in Michigan, and Polk State College with multiple locations in Florida--to move disbursements of funds for refunds and financial aid off of paper processes and into digital transactions.

With Higher One's service, students are mailed a co-branded card along with instructions on how to log onto the vendor's Web site to access their account and verify their e-mail and primary mailing addresses. The student then has the option to select how the disbursement will be made: direct deposit to the OneAccount, a no minimum balance, no monthly fee, checking account provided by Higher One, or by transfer to a bank account of the student's choice.

When it comes time for the refund to be disbursed, the institution sends Higher One a list of student names and refund amounts along with a corresponding wire for the total amount of the disbursement.

"We partnered with Higher One because they are the best at what they do," explained John Nadolski, controller at Kutztown U. "Higher One stays fully aware of regulations surrounding the student refund process as well as offer the best selection of options for our students for their money, as well as communication in forms they respond well to; text messages for notifications as well as alerts about their balances on the OneAccount option."

Polk State Senior Accountant John Sprenkle said his college had considered multiple options for disbursing financial aid refunds to students. "After we spoke with several colleges that use one disburse refund management systems, Higher One was selected based on the positive feedback."

Randy Roy, controller for Lansing Community College, said the college is currently distributing refunds by check. "This dramatically increases activity at our cashiers' window and can lead to delays in students getting checks based on the mail or based on students not maintaining accurate information in our system," he explained. "This new system will allow us to serve our students more effectively and efficiently and get refunds in the students' hands more quickly. It will also allow our cashiers to serve students instead of handing out checks and will eliminate the burden of the back office check printing and escheating process."

"We are excited to begin working with Higher One so that students will no longer have to wait in long lines at the Bursar's Office. With Higher One, we can now provide students with choices on how to receive their refunds," said Kutztown's Nadolski. "Higher One communicates to students in methods that they respond well to. It is critical for us to build the gap between student and staff so they know we are all here to help and work with them on their educational experience."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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