The Chabot – Las Positas Community College District in California has selected the refund management system of Higher One, a financial services and payment company focused exclusively on higher education, to issue financial aid payments electronically to the district’s 12,000 financial aid applicants.
The district, comprised of Chabot College and Las Positas College, was looking for a way to streamline financial aid payments to students. Until now the district simply distributed paper checks but this process was laborious for the front line staff and expensive for the two colleges. To make matters worse students had to endure a lengthy wait for their checks to arrive.
“We wanted to cut down the amount of time we spent on this process,” explained Andi Schreibman, Las Positas’ financial aid officer. “By allowing Higher One to handle this function for us, the business office staff is no longer tied up with printing checks, stuffing envelopes and distributing them to students.”
Electronic disbursement of these funds, an emerging trend in higher education, seemed to be the next logical step. It offered a way to streamline the process and decrease the amount of wait time students experienced with each disbursement.
“We considered offering students the option to have their financial aid payments sent via Automated Clearing House (ACH) to their current bank accounts,” said Kathryn Linzmeyer, Chabot College’s financial aid director. “However we did not want to offer it in-house or have to constantly monitor student banking information. Another concern was devoting our limited resources towards keeping track of closed bank accounts and bounced ACH payments. Finally, many of our students do not have checking or savings accounts, so it would have been only a partial solution.”
The Chabot – Las Positas Community College District will begin issuing financial aid payments through Higher One this fall.
“We are providing students with an opportunity to receive their financial aid payments in a much shorter period of time,” said Schreibman. “In addition, we are empowering students by providing an opportunity for self service. They can go online and check the status of their financial aid payment. Students can also receive updates via text message regarding their refund status or their account balance.”