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Assessing the student experience with e-refunds


Dowling College, in Oakdale, NY, has 7,000 students, most of whom obtain financial aid refunds each semester. The school implemented Higher One’s OneDisburse "Refund Management" system in 2007. Students can obtain refunds in one of two ways, including the OneAccount, a no-monthly-fee, no-mimimum-balance, FDIC-insured checking accounts for students. Patricia Noren is Dowling’s director of student financial services, and Mary Briody is assistant director of bursar operations.

Noren: Our bursar’s office and accounting office were all but shut down at refund time. There were boxes overflowing with paper checks. We had students in line to ask for their refund before we could even mail it out.

Noren: We had students waiting for their money. We had students who lost their checks, or who didn’t get them because they had moved. We also had students who didn’t have bank accounts, so they were paying high fees at a check-cashing store.

Briody: The refunds are electronically processed, so their money is deposited right into their OneAccount. They get an email or text message from Higher One confirming the deposit. We have ATMs on campus so they have easy access to their cash.

Noren: Absolutely. They didn’t understand why, with paper checks, we couldn’t give them a check the moment they came in our office, or why they had to wait to get an answer about when it would be available. Plus, it gets them familiar with banking and everything with banking is now online.