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Higher One Easy Refund FAQ

Higher One®

Who is Higher One®?

Higher One® is a technology and payment services company solely focused on higher education. They help schools become more efficient in processing Financial Aid and other student refunds in order to reduce expense and improve services for students

They were founded in 2000 on a college campus and remain committed to helping business offices eliminate unnecessary costs while providing all students with the choice for easier access to refunds. Higher One® is headquartered in New Haven, Connecticut and has offices in Oakland, California. They currently serve more than 700 campuses across all 48 states in the continental U.S.

What does Higher One® do?

Higher One® helps schools accept any payment, anytime, anyplace, while eliminating waste, delays, and errors in the refund distribution process while giving students a choice in how they receive their refunds.

Higher One®'s proprietary OneDisburse® Refund Management® funds disbursement service handles Financial Aid disbursements and refunds on behalf of the university administration. For the school, the service cuts down on the time and cost involved in issuing paper checks and allows the Oregon Tech Business Office to focus on other student needs. For the students, the service provides access to faster and more convenient ways to receive a refund - at no cost to the student.

Options begin for the student when they receive a mailing request that they choose a refund preference. Preferences include ACH transfer (to another bank), issued via paper check, or transferred into a OneAccount checking account (accessible with the Easy Refund℠ Card).

Higher One® believes that students can be financially responsible and, when given the necessary tools, can successfully live within their means. To that end, Higher One® neither offers students a credit card nor are they a student loan company.

I have heard a lot of colleges have protests and Facebook® groups against Higher One®.

Higher One® has partnered with more than 700 campuses across the entire country over the last decade. By and large, students adopt services with no issues. In fact, Higher One® has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. In some instances, there can be growing pains when a new process is implemented - most of these are "change-related" and a small group can become vocal. Higher One® and Oregon Tech are committed to ensuring the refund process can be as smooth and efficient as possible for students.

Both Portland State University and Southern Oregon University have been disbursing refunds using Higher One® and Easy Refund℠ since 2005. The big difference is that Oregon Tech still offers ACH Transfer and Paper Check options, and not just the OneAccount option.

Is Higher One® making money off student loans?

No. According to the Department of Education's 2008 regulations regarding the disbursement of Title IV funds, refunds must be disbursed to students free of charge. When schools partner with Higher One®, students are given more cost-free choices than before. Choices include ACH transfer (to another bank), traditional paper check, or transfer to a OneAccount checking account. The choice is up to the student.

How does Higher One® make money?

Oregon Tech has purchased the OneDisburse® Refund Management® fund disbursement service, which takes the burden of disbursing Financial Aid refunds off the Oregon Tech Business Affairs Office.

Does Higher One® office incentives or share revenues with Oregon Tech?

No. Oregon Tech does not receive any monetary benefit from partnering with Higher One® aside from the savings we derive from no longer offering paper checks through the Cashier's Office.

Were student leaders consulted in this process?

Yes. Members of ASOIT were consulted as part of the implementation process, and were included on the implementation team when Oregon Tech first decided to pursue a partnership with Higher One®.

Easy Refund℠ Card

What is the Easy Refund℠ Card for?

The Higher One® Easy Refund℠ Card is a unique way to securely identify students between Oregon Tech and Higher One® to quickly and accurately process student refunds. Use the Easy Refund℠ Card with Oregon Tech's Higher One® Portal to select a refund preference. If you select the OneAccount (see OneAccount information below for additional details) your Easy Refund℠ Card can be used as a MasterCard debit card.

If I don't receive Financial Aid, why do I still get sent an Easy Refund℠ Card?

Sometimes students receive refunds unrelated to Financial Aid, such as for dropped courses. Students will still need to select a refund preference with Higher One® in the event that Oregon Tech issues a refund in the future. Just because a student is not expecting a refund from Financial Aid, it does not mean they will not receive a refund from Oregon Tech sometime during their college career.

Do I have to use the Easy Refund℠ Card?

Yes, and no.

Yes, you do have to use the Easy Refund℠ Card to select a refund preference.
No, you do not have to open a OneAccount checking account through Higher One®.

If I don't have a OneAccount do I have to keep my Easy Refund℠ Card?

It is recommended that students maintain possession of their Easy Refund℠ Card even if they have decided not to open a OneAccount. The reason that Oregon Tech and Higher One® make this recommendation, is because you may still need your card number to access some services offered by Higher One® (like Customer Care). Also, if a student decides they would like to open a OneAccount at some point later in their college career and no longer has their Easy Refund℠ Card, there is a replacement fee that will be assessed to the student to order a new card.

The replacement card fee for a student who has not yet selected a refund preference is $10.
The replacement card fee for a student who has previously selected a refund preference is $20.

Why does Higher One® offer a credit card to a young population in debt?

Higher One® only offers banking services to students, many of whom are unbanked or considered unattractive to traditional banks. Higher One® does not offer a credit card, nor does it offer any instruments of credit, loans, or other means of placing students in debt. The Easy Refund℠ Card students receive to activate their refund preference is a debit card, and after selection of a refund preference is only active in the event the student chooses a OneAccount.

Didn't Congress pass reforms stating credit card companies could not promote on campus?

This is in reference to the H.R. 627: Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act). This Act pertains to companies marketing instruments of credit to college students, which Higher One® does not do. In fact, Higher One® offers no instruments of credit (no loans or credit cards). In an effort to further educate students, Higher One® provides a number of financial literacy resources, including access to their Financial Literacy & Consumer Advocacy expert, available at OneForYourMoney.com.


What is the OneAccount?

As part of Higher One®'s OneDisburse® Refund Management® fund disbursement service, Higher One® offers an opportunity for all students to opt to have their disbursements deposited into a OneAccount - an FDIC insured checking account with no monthly fee and no minimum balance - they offer through their banking partners. The OneAccount is only active if the student chooses to open a OneAccount and have their refund deposited into that checking account.

The OneAccount is not linked to a credit card or a prepaid debit card, but to a MasterCard that functions like other debit cards attached to a checking account.

Why are there so many fees associated with the OneAccount?

The OneAccount is actually designed to be used for free, and may students use it that way. There are no hidden fees - the full fee schedule can be found at: https://www.higheroneaccount.com/info/outfees.jsp.

Why does Higher One® charge a PIN fee?

In a continual effort to make sure the OneAccount is a value for students (with features like no minimum balance and no monthly fees) in comparison with larger, traditional banks, Higher One® assesses a PIN-based transaction fee. To avoid this fee, Higher One® encourages students to choose the freesignature-based transaction method ("Swipe & Sign"). In addition to being free for students, the "Swipe & Sign method protects student's transactions under the MasterCard Zero Liability policy against fraudulent purchases.

Why does Higher One® charge to use ATM's?

Higher One® provides at least one ATM to each college or university using the Easy Refund℠ Card, where students can withdraw cash and check their balances, free of charge. Oregon Tech's Higher One® ATM is located on the north side of the main entrance on the first floor of the College Union (across from the Bistro).

Privacy and Security

What about privacy concerns?

Higher One® takes security and privacy very seriously. They do not sell or share personal information with any third party vendors or services. Students may choose to opt into receiving messages directly from Higher One® regarding third party products or services that may benefit the student.