Editorial: Debit-based financial aid system causes confusion


In Spring 2012, the financial aid office changed the way of providing money to eligible students.

Before, students would apply and a check would arrive in the postal mail at a later date, sometimes weeks later.

Now distributions are made to Higher One accounts and linked to debit cards.

The implementation of the Higher One distribution system is meant to make the process of receiving financial funds easier.

This service has it benefits and its flaws. Higher One is a company. Like any other company their goal is make as much profit as possible. The way to do this is to charge fees for insignificant things like putting a pin in.

The Collegian acknowledges Higher One makes the financial aid process an ease, but we also feel that students should not be so naïve and understand how to properly handle their money through Higher One.

One reason that students should be on the lookout on how money is used is because Higher One has a certain amount of fees. These fees are part of the terms students agree to when signing up for this card.

According to the Higher One Fee Schedules one fee is “Merchant Pin-Based transaction.”

When this fee is charged to a student’s account this means that at the checkout the students selected the “Debit” option.

The fee schedule states: “Over half of OneAccount holders never receive more than one pin fee…”

These fees are easy to avoid.
Instead of entering the personal identification number at the checkout, students can choose the “credit” option to avoid excess fees.

We’ve heard complaints about the fees associated with using these cards on and off campus. Like other financial institutions, Higher One charges a fee when an ATM is used that is not one of theirs.

Higher One’s fee schedule says $2.50 plus any fees the ATM owner charges. The obvious way to avoid this is by using free Higher One ATMs.
Overdraft fees are also painful.

According to Higher One’s fee schedule, the first overdraft during the account’s lifetime entails a $29 charge. All subsequent transactions are $38.

The last fee students should be aware of is the “monthly service fee.”

The fee is $3.95 per month. The way to avoid the charge is by being a student or having direct deposit of $100 per month.

These are all the fees Higher One charges its OneAccount holder students.

However, students continue to have other options for receiving financial aid, including direct deposit into a bank account or having a check issued and mailed to a home address.

The adage that “Knowledge is Power” applies here. Students need to take responsibility for their own finances by being informed.

Students have other options besides the Higher One card.

These two options, which may now seem old in light of the introduction of Higher One, are both ways to avoid excess fees.