Higher One announced that it will partner with Oklahoma City Community College to distribute refunds electronically to the College’s 12,500 students. It’s the first client institution in Oklahoma for the financial services provider that focuses on higher education.
“We were looking for ways to speed up and simplify our refund process and provide better services to our student population,” said Gary A. Lombard, vice president for human resources and support services at OCCC.
Higher One provides students with a choice of up to three different ways to receive their financial aid refunds from the school: Direct deposit to a no minimum balance, no monthly fee, an FDIC-insured checking account provided by Higher One, an ACH transfer to another bank account, or a paper check mailed to the address on file.
These choices were one of the main reasons OCCC decided to partner with Higher One. “Higher One was the only solution that addressed every issue we were trying to address; guaranteed bank accounts for all students including those who might otherwise be considered un-bankable, the ability for students to make their own choices regarding their refunds, and manage those choices seven days a week, if they so desire,” explained Brandi Henson, OCCC bursar.
Recently the Department of Education made changes to the regulations surrounding the distribution of Title IV funds to encourage electronic delivery. OCCC, like many other institutions of higher education around the country, wanted to embrace electronic distribution of refunds but would not do so at the expense of the students who did not have a bank account. In addition to ensuring that all students had access to the two electronic means of receiving their refunds, OCCC wanted to make sure that the College was not taking on any additional work.
In addition to ensuring that all students had access to the two electronic means of receiving their refunds, OCCC wanted to make sure that the College was not taking on any additional work. Building an internally managed ACH program would have done just that, as the College would have had to collect and secure student banking information.
“The College did not want to take on banking functions. Also, an in-house ACH program would not have allowed us to provide for our students with no bank accounts,” said Henson.
Higher One collects, maintains, and secures all student banking information, educates students on the process, distributes refunds to students based on their preferences, handles any bounced ACH payments or returned checks, and fields any refund related customer service inquiries.
Higher One recruited a record 22 colleges and universities to its client base during the second quarter of this year.