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Higher One Debit Card for Financial Aid Kathryn Linzmeyer, Financial Aid Director, Chabot College Andi Schreibman, Financial Aid Officer, Las Positas College Karen Peña, Systems Analyst, CLPCCD Alfonso Sanchez, Sr., Computer Programmer/Data Analyst, Imperial Valley College
AGENDA • Why Higher One? • Our timeline • Technical aspects • Training • Decisions/Choices • Multi college points to consider • Marketing • Card initiation/activation • Benefits and drawbacks of utilizing HO • Issues to be aware of • Questions and Answers • Our contact information
Why Higher One? • Higher One is a financial services company which focuses on providing technology-enabled financial services to college institutions. • The HO OneAccount card can be used as an ID card on campus, as an ATM card, as a campus debit card, and as a debit mastercard. • Offers Free checking accounting/online banking including electronic transfer of money and bill pay • We chose Higher One because -they interface with Evisions software, -debit cards would provide faster access to student financial aid payments (known as ‘refunds’) -would result in staff and cost savings from not printing and mailing checks and reconciliation of checks
Why Higher One? • Faster Refunds if students activate preference early and correctly • Funds are placed in student debit accounts within a few hours of funds being transferred to HO • Students have more choices in delivery and can change their preference by logging in to their own account at HO -Students with existing bank account can chose ACH transfer (same as EFT) instead of the HO OneAccount -For those who chose to still have checks mailed • HO assumes responsibility for monitoring stale dated checks, replacement of lost checks, etc. We have no burden of responsibility!
Running on the fast track…our timeline for implementation • Convened interested parties district-wide on 5/13/08 for overview by HO execs • HO Contract reviewed by all parties,modified, signed on 6/16/08 • Week of 7/1 HO implementation team met with key staff at both colleges and district for initial demonstration and planning for marketing, training and implementation • Beginning 7/2 held weekly CCCConfer meetings for 1) implementation and 2) marketing plans • Mid-July testing began • First refund file sent to HO on 8/19/08
Our timeline assessment…. • We’d NEVER (WE REALLY MEAN NEVER!) recommend such a short timeline! Everything was crammed into a few weeks from the time we began training, marketing info first went to students, cards were sent, and refunds were made. We all learned how to help students with their debit card questions on the fly during the busiest opening of a school year we’d ever experienced!
Chabot - Las Positas CCDHigherOne Technical Multi-College Districts: One vs Many Chabot Las Positas Community College Chabot & Las Positas treated as separate entities Evisions application could not handle this type of environment ITS had to create scripts that followed Higher One file specifications. Received modified application which will be installed & tested after the conference Slide: 7
Imperial Valley College HigherOne Technical Single-College District: One Main Campus, three extended campuses = One single entity FINAID: Financial Aid was not involved in the HigherOne technical setup/implementation Verifying Debit Card status Activating Debit cards Obtaining www.ivcone.com passwords “Spread” the word Disbursement dates: From: 1 disbursement a month To: 2,3, or even 4 times per month Slide: 8
Imperial Valley College HigherOne Technical FINANCE: ALL HigherOne students are Identified as Direct Deposit recipients to avoid printing checks[GXADIRD] ALL students are flagged or assigned a HigherOne attribute [SGASADD] Scripts created by IT: Card Production File Refund File GXADIRD – Direct Deposit SGASADD – Additional Student Information Slide: 9
Training • HO Training modules online and very helpful. • All staff expected to complete weekly training assignments. HO knows exactly what each of us has done! • DO’s and DON’Ts: DO the assignments. They are very informative! Don’t cram! We did not have enough time between training and debit cards being mailed. Give yourself time inbetween to synthesize the information
Decisions/Choices • We are a multi college district, and we chose to have separate debit cards for each college with unique designs Resulted in having two separate HO customer service websites www.chabotdebitcard.com & www.laspositasdebitcard.com
Decisions/Choices • Where to place the ATM machine • Involved discussion with student services, college business office, security. • Must be located inside • Must have electricity, phone line/modem, be accessible • Your college must put in any necessary electric/phone lines • Typically no one wants it in their area!
Decisions/Choices CIP • Must determine whether to have the bank be responsible to verify CIP (Customer identification Program/Homeland Security banking regulations) for students or whether to have the financial aid office be responsible to verify CIP when there is a problem Choice 1: Bank retains responsibility for CIP verification Pros: • Bank’s responsibility to collect and maintain copy of unexpired government-issued photo id, not ours • Bank contacts student, student faxes/mails to bank. Cons: • Students wind up coming in to have us help them resolve anyway • Reality is we wind up faxing a lot of them ourselves, must blow up size of id, takes a lot of staff time • Verification process is not instant and can cause delays in accessing their aid until theverification goes through, even when we help them
Decisions/choices (CIP, continued) • Choice 2: College is responsible to verify CIP Pros: • Quick immediate resolution of CIP issues • Quick release of student’s refund once college verifies Cons: • College’s responsibility to collect and maintain copy of unexpired government-issued photo id for selected students and to fill out a verification form • Documentation subject to bank audit within 3 years • More staff time devoted to this function • We haven’t done this so we can’t tell if it will take significantly more time than we already spend helping students resolve CIP issues
Multi college district points to consider • Consider all the issues involved with issuing separate college cards before deciding to issue a district debit card or college debit cards • Cards allow the colleges to be autonomous and market their own colors/brand and determine their own design • Crossover issues occur • If student files FAFSA for more than one college within district, the college selecting them in suspense is the one who will be issuing the debit card (call that College A) • Student may actually receive aid/attend College B while having a debit card from College A. Their refund will go into a holding account and we will not know of the problem until we review the recipient unknown report on www.higheronesupport.com after refund is made.
Multi College District Points to consider • Crossover issues (continued) • We had to develop a process to resolve these crossovers. • Crossovers result in a delay in receiving aid because a new card must be ordered for College B. • If student switches between colleges from one year to another they need a debit card for each of the colleges. • Note that there is No charge for issuing a new first debit card for the other college • If we had it to do over again we would probably have chosen a district card and may adopt that in the future.
Marketing • HO Marketing Campaign • Very structured marketing plan; can customize somewhat • Marketing materials are very generic • College can make changes to publication templates HO offers in marketing plan • Includes posters and large banners that should be posted around campus, literature to mail to students; pdfs allow you to print additional and post on your own website • HO terminology on all printed material refers to financial aid payments only as ‘refunds’; our students don’t understand this term and we changed wording on all materials to clarify what the term ‘refund’ meant
Marketing • School Marketing • School Homepage • FAO webpage (HO, refund preferences, FAQ’s, and other direct links to refund activation site) • Debit card Letter mailed to all aid applicants by the colleges • Letter to faculty/college regarding the new Debit Card • ATM signage • Promote specific information to lessen confusion • College newspaper article
Ideas for HO information Outreach • Outreach • Education • Students, parents, special programs, and college • In reach events/fairs • Info Booth • Activation • Student centered • Information Booth/Activation Help (best practice! Alleviate FAO traffic at the beginning of semester)
Marketing/Info to present to Students • What is a financial aid refund? • Introduction to HO and new refund preferences • How to activate your preference • Disbursement date vs. refund date • HO Basics and FAQ’s • ATM location and max withdrawal • How to change refund preference • Difference between Easy Refund, ACH Option, and paper check • Where’s my card? • Resetting password and pin • CIP Verification process • FEES associated with card!
Card initiation Process • A data file to initiate cards is sent to HO after each ISIR load with addresses from active Student Record file; Fin Aid can access data • Debit cards are mailed to each student by HO at address on file, usually received within one week of order or less • We mail initial information about the card to each student on each data file through our marketing plan
Card Activation Process • Students activate cards online just like any credit card • Undeliverable cards report (usually due to bad address – HO will not forward, cards are returned to HO and cancelled) • You choose how to resolve undeliverable cards (can email, call, write to student, determine whether to follow up with only aid recipients or all students)
Typical Financial Aid Office tasks • Using HigherOneSupport.com • Search for student card • Identifying undeliverable cards • Order/replace card/correct address • Checking refund status of student • CIP Verification (helping with fax/resolution) • Assist students in resetting password/pin • Understand fees associated with process • We have several savvy student assistants who went through all the HO training and can help students with account issues and problem solving
Benefits • Simple and quick to reverse refunds from a student’s HO account made in error. We can take back the funds as long as the student hasn’t spent any of the funds from that transaction. Cost is $5/reversal. • MOBILE TEXTING and PERIODIC EMAIL ALERTS when a new refund is put into account! Very student centered. • Texting only offered for HigherOne account, not for ACH transfer or paper check • Debit cards serve as an incentive for students to be more responsible with their financial aid funds and their finances • If students use ‘swipe and sign’ Mastercard feature their purchase transactions are always free.
Benefits • HO offers excellent customer service and support. Problem resolution is fast, and they are always friendly • Our staff can refer students to HO to resolve most of their account problems and banking problems • Students can reset pin and password online as long as they are not suspended from accessing their account. • Students’ families can easily transfer additional funds into a student’s HO debit account to help with college expenses
Benefits • www.higheronesupport.com Training, self service inquiries, reports Excellent customer service by email or phone with our account reps, as well as with the general number. Quick problem resolution, quick response time to requests Excellent customer service for students to call direct. Always very courteous and patient, to staff and to students
Drawbacks • Most of marketing revolves around opening a HO “One Account” and not the other refund choices • There are fees associated with using the ATM pin feature of the debit card (50 cents) but students typically don’t read. • If students try to login unsuccessfully too many times, their access will be suspended and be asked to go through an identification verification process online • ATM is not easy to use, is slow and painful at times – not your typical bank ATM
Drawbacks • Higher One Customer Service not available on weekends • ATM, and banking services limited to “online only”, no branches • Challenging to students who are not computer literate or have no experience with bank accounts/ATM • Students confuse the debit card with a “credit card” • Drawdown/transmission of funds to HO must match your refund total or it will reject. Means fast resolution of COD files. • There are issues when you have funds in two or more banks, such as federal funds in one bank and Cal Grants in another. HO allows transfers from only one bank per school.
Issues to be aware of • Students with ISIRs listing both colleges • No time to warn students about correcting addresses in admissions before card files are sent • Internal issue: Address corrections were made to RE address but not to MA address; debit cards were mailed to incorrect old MA address, returned for bad address and we are charged $20 to reissue a new one (not student’s fault!) • There are charges you may not be aware of at first; each refund transaction costs the district $.40 (less than a stamp though!) • Lump sum charges for reissuance of cards are sent monthly to district without any detail. We must download the list of students charged from HigherOneSupport.com, and then place charges on student accounts
Issues • Fee Schedule is posted clearly on HO website but students don’t typically read fee schedule • Only the swipe and sign Mastercard feature of the debit card is free for purchases. 50 cent HO charge/purchase to use ATM feature (swipe and use pin). Must continuously stress to students to ‘swipe & sign’.
Issues • We have a tendency to hand hold students when we can easily be referring them to HO customer service, especially for information about bank features. We need to retrain ourselves to better utilize HO customer service to lesson our own workload!
??????????????????? • Questions and Answers Contact us: General Questions: • Kathy Linzmeyer Phone: 510.723.6751 firstname.lastname@example.org • Andi Schreibman: Phone: 925.424.1585 email@example.com Technical Questions: • Karen Peña Phone: 510.723.6705 firstname.lastname@example.org • Alfonso Sanchez Phone: 760.355.6516 Alfonso.email@example.com