• Report: #842643

Complaint Review: HigherOne

  • Submitted: Tue, February 21, 2012
  • Updated: Fri, January 18, 2013

  • Reported By: Trey — Austin Texas United States of America
115 Munson Street New Haven, Connecticut United States of America

HigherOne One Focus: Higher Education Students Forced To Receive Their Refunds Through HigherOne New Haven, Connecticut

*Consumer Comment: dispute

*UPDATE Employee: Higher One Response

*Consumer Comment: Lower One

*UPDATE Employee: Higher One Response

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HigherOne, The One The One Account The One World Order.  I am horrified and disgusted by our institutions of higher education in this country to allow our students to be subjected to this company.  I mean FORCING our students to be subjected to this company.

Students all across the country are being forced to receive the refunds from their student loans, grant and scholarship funds through debit cards issued to them for HigherOne Bank.

One of the arguments for institutions to go this route is the work and environmental issues associated with issuing paper checks. Odd, many institutions offer direct deposit to the students respective banks it is 2012.  

Go green?  Ok, well encourage students to go green by opening up a bank account at the local credit union (preferred) or bank if they dont already have a bank.  They are in college we should be teaching and supporting good financial habits.  Teaching them to be good consumers by assessing their needs and who offers what they need at the best price.    

We should also be supporting choice not martial banking law.  All consumers need to learn to assess financial options and make financial decisions not be served with no choice at all. 

If direct deposit to a students bank is not an option, then their refunds can be placed on a student issued, by the University, card that is similar to their student ID card, that can be taken to a community bank, or other banks that have indicated a willingness to honor, that will allow students access to their refunds electronically where they can be withdraw entirely or in increments as needed with no fee by showing proper ID and signing.  

The bank benefits from the student traffic and can offer students products the fair way.through marketing and consumer choice not force.

The worst thing about these colleges/universities doing business with HigherOne is that the student body is being told that they can get their funds directly deposited into their own financial institutions.  However, the catch is not without having them funneled through HigherOne first.

If the argument is green the schools just simply submitting wire transfer files through their bank is just as green.  Then their bank processes the file and funds are transferred per the file from the institution to the students prospective bank accounts.  

The student is informed of these electronic options as soon as they apply for financial aid and have their FASFA forms sent to the institutions they apply to as well as after they have been accepted.  

Informing students that they can either provide direct deposit information for their personal bank encouraging students to establish a financial institution if they dont already have one, establishing a joint account with a parent or someone else may be an option if a student cant establish one on their own,  or having the option of receiving their refunds through a school issued money card where no fees are assessed when they withdraw the funds from the banks that choose to be associated with the school.  This would not be a debit card and could only be used at the associated banks to withdraw funds and no where else as there are no fees. This last option would be the answer to replacing a paper check.    

The above paperless electronic options should be encouraged as the fastest, greenest, and most efficient way to receive refunds.  If none of those work for a particular student, then suck it up and issue a paper check.  

Far better than forcing college students into an agreement to do business with HigherOne with their federal student loans, grants, and scholarships.  It is beyond me that forcing anyone to do business with one particular institution is even legal!!  

Seriously, this burdensome paper check issue complaint is a bunch of garbage.  No institution needs to engage with HigherOne only to have students funds siphoned out from underneath them.  What does the school gain from this?  The student gains nothing and only loses.  Below is what the parasite organization of HigherOne gains from this.

From: newsinvestors.com 7/2011

In the first quarter of this year, for instance, OneAccount revenue totaled just under $42 million. That amounted to 81.7% of total revenue. Revenue from institutions paying for disbursement services was just $4.38 million, a mere 8.5% of total revenue.
Other services including the handling of online tuition payments accounted for 8.4% of total revenue.

82.7% of revenue from assessing fees on students student loan, grant and scholarship money? Students being forced to have their funds deposited with HigherOne and having to go through withdrawing in increments due to daily limits or being tempted to leave their funds where the institution put it and endure the dwindling of their livlihood.  The best part is a lot of this money is loan money being paid to HigherOne if fees that the student is paying interest on!!

From: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/politics/2012/higher-turns-financial-aid-big-business/ 

Founded in 2000, Higher One now serves over 700 colleges nationwide. Over the past year, student accounts have risen by 31% to around 2 million students. Higher One acknowledges that Regulation E amendments limiting insufficient funds fees have slowed them down a bit this past year. Still, the company made the bulk of their earnings from account revenue, an umbrella category that includes interchange fees charged to retailers, as well as a plethora of fees levied on the students who use their products.
Yep, Higher One makes much of its money from banking fees, effectively taking millions of dollars of financial aid from the pockets of the poorest college students. When a student receives aid in excess of tuition, its refunded to him. Thats where Higher One comes in, acting as a financial aid clearinghouse.

This is the next big financial scandal for the United States.

At least allow free enterprise among the parasites and let them compete for the students money. That would result in better student fees associated with THEIR money if they choose to have it sent to a bank.  These colleges and universities simply need to offer direct deposit to a students bank, or engage with several institutions that will allow students to have their colleges money cards honored, or issue a paper check if need be!  My guess is most will choose direct deposit or a money card with no fee where they can just withdraw their funds.

I dont know how many of us would allow our employer to choose to issue us a debit card rather than provide direct deposit to our respective banks..makes you wonder if that is next.  Being forced to have all your funds funneled through one institution.  If this isnt OK for ushow are these schools getting away with it with students money?

I have to applaud Texas Tech University where one of my children attended. The first year they had direct deposit options or paper checks.  My child chose direct deposit and within a few days of disbursement the funds were transferred to their personal checking account where we reside.  My student also opened a student account at Texas Tech Federal Credit Union to establish with a local bank.  

The second year student refunds were issued via HigherOne. What a nightmare!!

The  third year Texas Tech chose to discontinue doing business with HigherOne.  Thats right, doing business with HigherOne was not in the best interest of their students.  

Texas Tech returned to the policy of direct deposit for students that provide their account information and check for those that dont.

Here is a Fee Schedule for HigherOne Accounts vs. My Credit Union

Pin Fee Higher One: .50
At checkout you selected "debit" and entered your Personal Identification Number (PIN), or a merchant processed your transaction as a PIN-less debit transaction even if you did not explicitly provide your PIN. 

I love this, even if you did not provide your PIN.  I have been dinged with this at the pump among other places.  So, HigherOne needs to stop with your ability to avoid this .50 fee as it is clearly stated here there are times you are not given that choice!!

Pin Fee My Credit Union: $.0

Non HigherOne ATM Use Fee: $2.50
Includes all withdrawals, inquiries, and declines. 
HigherOne ATMs are typically just on your campus.
Non My Credit Union ATM Fee: $1.00

HigherOne NSF Fee: $29.00 first item, $38.00 each item after one
My Credit Union NSF Fee: $24.00 They dont state an increased fee for more than one returned item.

HigherOne Card Replacement: $20.00
My Credit Union Card Replacement: No Charge (Used to be $10.00 currently no charge.)

HigherOne Deposited Item Return Fee: $7.00
My Credit Union Deposited Item Return Fee: $2.00

HigherOne Teller Check/Cashiers Check: $8.00
My Credit Union Teller Check/Cashiers Check: One free teller check a day in excess of 1 the charge is $1.00.  There is a $2.00 charge for a cashiers check.

You get the picture.  Students are being forced to do business with an institution that isnt even interested in providing the best possible fee structure for the individuals being forced to do business with them with student loan, scholarship and even more devastating grant money which is provided for the neediest of students.

I am currently in the process of changing careers and have returned to school and this is my personal experience with this company.  

I disputed a charge where a merchant fraudulently ran my card for approximately 180.00 in excess of the agreed upon amount for a tire!!  As soon as I noticed the incorrect amount I contacted HigherOne.  Then the merchant.  I submitted my dispute in writing.  After doing business with this merchant and having this occur I researched the merchant online only to find a multitude of complaints ranging from fraud, to theft, as well as having an F rating with the Better Business Bureau and a few bouts with local police. All of this information was provided to HigherOne along with my dispute.  

HigherOne responded with the need for additional information which was also provided back to them in writing.  This was responded to with another request for additional information which was also provided to them in writing.  This dispute was presented over 30 days ago.  I was just informed that because I gave my card to the merchant to process the charge there was nothing they could do about it.  I would have to take it up with the merchant. I had already presented to HigherOne that the merchant was contacted and would not honor the transaction by correcting the charge.

HigherOne was provided 3 written statements with details from me inclusive of links regarding the company as well as proof that other customers were not successful in working out disputes with this company which is why they had an F rating with the Better Business Bureau and the link to the BBB was provided as well.  Basically, there is nothing they can do? 

Of course, I will be escalating to corporate.  I am an older than average student.  However, can you imagine your 18 or 19 year old student taking having to engage with this institution for restitution of an unauthorized amount being charged?  How infuriating.  

I have never had one issue with my bank regarding fraudulent or unauthorized charges being removed (Not that I have had the issue often.) after providing evidence they were not authorized.  They didnt leave them there because they said it was my fault I provided my debit card number, bank account information or handed them the card for a transaction.  

This is great though. this is one of the benefits students are offered with this company listed under the no additional fees section. MasterCard Zero Liability Protection paid for by HigherOne. That should tip anyone off right there that this is actually worth NOTHING!!

This is how the benefit is presented:

MasterCard Zero Liability Protection Provided by Higher One: Signature Debit MasterCard transactions where you select "credit" when making a purchase are covered by the MasterCard Zero Liability Policy provided by Higher One. MasterCard Zero Liability policy means you are eligible for protection against fraudulent purchases made with your card when you report a card theft promptly. Learn more about terms and details of the Zero Liability policy provided by Higher One.

OK.this is for transactions where you select credit when making a purchase.  Then it says that the Laibility policy means you are only protected from fraudulent purchase made with your card when you report theft?  So, this has nothing to do with you swiping your card and choosing credit. There is no protection for overcharges or fraudulent charges associated with that.  Their liability is only for charges that occur if you report the card stolen and only if you do it promptly.  It is under the Learn More link that you actually learn more about what this is.  

Zero Liability Protection for Lost & Stolen Cards

Have peace of mind knowing that the financial institution that issued your U.S. MasterCard card won't hold you responsible for "unauthorized purchases." Zero liability applies to purchases made in the store, over the telephone or made online. As a MasterCard cardholder you will not be responsible in the event of unauthorized purchases provided that the following preconditions are met:
Your account is in good standing.
You have exercised reasonable care in safeguarding your card from any unauthorized use**. Unauthorized use means that you did not provide, directly, by implication or otherwise, the right to use your card and you received no benefit from the "unauthorized" purchase. 
(** Failure to register certain cards will be considered as not safeguarding your card.)
You have not reported two or more unauthorized events in the past 12 months.
Zero Liability does not apply to MasterCard cards 
(i) issued for commercial, business or agricultural purposes, except for MasterCard commercial cards used for small businesses as listed on www.mastercardbusiness.com; or 
(ii) if a PIN for a debit transaction is used for the unauthorized purchase.

They provide it for free because it cost them nothing.  If you report your card stolen promptly it will be cancelled, most likely, before it can be used.  The operative word no doubt is promptly as if it is lost or stolen and goes undetected by you and does get used, the world promptly will be used to hold you responsible. 

I provided my card, but not for the amount the merchant charged to my card.  I was denied my dispute based on the fact that I provided my card.  None of the other documentation provided was utilized in HigherOne making their decision or this would not have been the case.  This is exactly what was provided to me.

Thank you for contacting Customer Care. We have investigated your disputed transaction based on the information provided. A decision was reached after reviewing all of the available facts in a sincere attempt to help resolve the error reported on your account. Though we wish the outcome were different, the investigation indicates that no error occurred and regrettably, that we must deny the claim. 

Below are specific facts that resulted in this decision: 

- Based on the form submitted, it was reported that you gave your card information to the merchant. By doing so, the merchant obtained your authorization to process the transaction according to their terms and conditions. 

In a case such as this whereby the merchant received an authorization for the transaction, we would like to recommend that you contact them directly to resolve the matter.

Our customers depend on us for the highest level of customer satisfaction and we are committed to providing the superior service you deserve and expect. We regret that we were unable to resolve this matter in your favor.

I am a little bit more experienced than the average student with banking policies given the number of years I have been banking and managing a home and I have been subject to unwanted HigherOne fees even after reading disclosures and doing my best to avoid them.  

Also, as you can see, the merchant can do whatever they want with your card even if it is fraudulent and HigherOne will provide you no protection regardless the documentation presented.  I believe their HigherOne Zero Liability policy provided for free is a good name for it as what it means is that HigherOne will provide ZERO protection therefore they have ZERO liability not you!!  

I have for a fact experienced this situation one other time a few years ago and it was taken care of by my bank that day.  No three separate detailed reports requested. 

Please petition your congressmen and congresswomen to disallow HigherOne to be the institution your students are forced to have to deal with.  No one should be forced to deal with this fee schedule, customer service, and no protection of your funds, least of all with funds as needed as grant, scholarship and student loan money.

 No one should be forced to deal with a business period!!  If HigherOne doesnt steal desperately needed student funds with fees the merchants students have to deal with can steal your funds by processing more than they are entitled for a charge, yet HigherOne will tell you they are entitled as you gave them your card to pay for the purchase!!

Students, please petition your school to drop HigherOne.  Please write to your congressmen and congresswomen regarding this issue. 

Freedom of choice and to not be forced to do business with anyone we dont choose with OUR funds, seems pretty much something that should not be stolen from me. 

My school will not provide refunds any other way to receive refunds so something has to be done.  

If Texas Tech can just say no to HigherOne I am sure they are not the only school out there smart enough to figure out it is about the students and what is best for them not the banks!!!  

Move over Bank of America you just met your match and they are quickly leaving you in the dust!!!

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/21/2012 04:50 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/HigherOne/New-Haven-Connecticut-06511/HigherOne-One-Focus-Higher-Education-Students-Forced-To-Receive-Their-Refunds-Through-Hig-842643. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment


AUTHOR: mercees - (USA)

 I Feel that is not true a dispute doesnt not always mean an authorized charge, it could mean that you purchased something and never got your products , it could mean you were double charged or chrged the wrong amount. i have been in the banking industry for years and we would never do a such thing to our customers.we would advise the customer to try and work the issue with the debitor and at that point if it can not be worked out than we investagate and if we are not able to resolve with the merchant than the customer would be provided a provisional credit.

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#2 UPDATE Employee

Higher One Response

AUTHOR: Higher One Customer Care - (United States of America)

Dear mnf123,

Thank you for your recent comments. We regret to hear of your negative experience
It may be helpful to know that opening a Higher One checking account  is only one of the options provided by your school.

This option is selected during an online activation process and requires the entry of personal indentifying information. If you believe an account was opened fraudulently, please contact us immediately to further discuss this matter.

Additionally, our Fee Schedule is located on the top portion of online statements and on the bottom of every page within an account. Many students use the account without ever incurring a fee.

We encourage all account holders to review the Fee Schedule which lists common banking fees and most importantly, how they can be avoided. We hope this is helpful.

You may reach Customer Care by dialing the toll free number on the back of your card Monday-Friday, 8:00 am - 11:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. We want to ensure that your concerns are addressed and welcome the opportunity to personally assist with your questions.

Higher One
Customer Care
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#3 Consumer Comment

Lower One

AUTHOR: mnf123 - (United States of America)

Recently I paid CASH for my tuition at a local Juco only to find out that the classes I had to drop were being refunded to me on a Debit Card that was opened for me.  Without my prior notice, or consent (to my knowledge) my personal information was shared with a banking system to which my "refund" of nearly $700 did not "show up" for nearly 2 months. Probably on the part of the school but regardless. seven-hundred dollars in a bank account, that has fees and withdrawal fees, and overdraft fees, and if you use it as a debit card it has fees... this just seems absurd!  

On top of that, the only ATM they had nearest to me was over 40 miles away to which I could not get to on an easy, or regular basis.  I was livid when the school kept playing dumb with me.  I want this to stop.  there has to be a release form signed or electronically signed by ALL students when they register for courses that either opts them in or out of a program such as this.  MY CASH, MY MONEY, not student aid, or loan money my money should have gone back to me, in my hand.

The End... for now.
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#4 UPDATE Employee

Higher One Response

AUTHOR: Higher One Customer Care - (United States of America)

Dear Trey,

Thank you for your letter regarding your Higher One account. Higher One is committed to stellar service and we appreciate the opportunity to provide the following response. As part of our OneDisburse Refund Management service, Higher One offers an opportunity for all students to opt to have their disbursement deposited into an FDIC insured checking account  that we offer through our banking partner. 

A Higher One account is only activated if students choose to have their refund deposited into that checking account. With a number of ways to exempt account holders from standard fees charged by most banks, the value of the account is that it offers all students an attractive alternative to the accounts that other banks offer, including no requirement to pre-qualify.

We assure you that there are no hidden fees. The fee schedule is always transparent and just one click away. It is listed on the top portion of online statements and on the bottom of every page within a cardholders account.

The Fee Schedule reviews common banking fees and most importantly, how they can be avoided. We can assure you that many students use their Higher One account as their primary account, without ever incurring a fee.

If students prefer, they can opt to have refunds sent to the third party bank account of their choice and in some cases, their school will offer the option to receive a paper check.We regret to hear of the frustrations caused by the denial of your claim.

Higher One complies with all federal regulations relating to how claims of unauthorized transactions are handled. MasterCard Zero Liability states: As a cardholder, you will not be held responsible in the event of unauthorized purchases provided that the following conditions are met:

Your account is in good standing.

You have exercised reasonable care in safeguarding your card from any unauthorized use. Unauthorized use means that you did not provide, directly, by implication or otherwise, the right to use your card and you received no benefit from the "unauthorized" purchase.

You have not reported two or more unauthorized events in the past 12 months.

In cases where the card number was provided to the merchant, we recommend contacting the merchant directly to resolve your dispute. We apologize for your negative experience and would welcome the opportunity to discuss any unresolved questions or concerns.

Please do not hesitate to contact us by dialing the toll free number listed on the back of your card, Monday - Friday, from 8:00 am - 11:00 pm Eastern Standard Time if you have any further questions or concerns.


Higher One Customer Care
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