Texas, Arizona and North Dakota Campuses Sign on for Higher One Refund Management Services

Higher One, a financial services company serving higher education, said 15 colleges and universities have signed agreements in the first quarter of 2008 to use its OneDisburse Refund Management system to handle disbursement of refunds to students.

The schools newly participating include Austin Community College in Austin, TX; Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff; the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks; Kansas City Community College; and Mohave Community College in Arizona.

With the OneDisburse program, the participating school gathers refund information and sends it to Higher One in a flat file with an identifier for each student. The school also wires the total disbursement amount to the company. Higher One disburses the refunds based on the method selected by the student. If the student has a question or needs support, the vendor handles that.

"We decided on Higher One because the company offered a great product for our students while freeing up time for our Student Account Services department to concentrate on quality customer service," explained Sharon Berning, controller at the University of North Dakota. "We anticipate that Higher One's service will get refunds to students faster, decrease time staff spend on returned checks and ACH returns, offer some unique bank account features to the students, and improve our overall customer service."

"Cost is a contributing factor. Given our overhead costs to produce checks and sending an ACH file, and with our research into Higher One services, we believe that they have proven to be more affordable while providing our students with greater flexibility in managing their refunds," said Karen Cooper, associate bursar at NAU.

"Currently, all refunds and financial aid disbursements are handled in-house by ACC staff, and students can only receive their refunds and disbursements by a paper check mailed to the student," said Ben Ferrell, VP for business services at Austin Community College. "Bad addresses, checks received late, and lost checks are common. Higher One was selected based on their business model that provides the most options at the least cost to both students and ACC. Higher One provides more disbursement options for students, speeds the receipt of financial aid refunds to students, eliminates in-house check writing, frees up staff to assist students better, handles Title IV Financial Aid disbursement compliance, and provides multiple outlets of support for both students and administrators."

OneAccount provides students with tools to do online bill paying, send money into another OneAccount, perform money wires, access online statements, and make purchases using the MasterCard Debit Card, which is tied to the account.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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