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Florida's Flagler College is leading the way to a cashless future

Richard Jacobs is director of student accounts at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla., which uses several of Higher One's payment management solutions. As a member of the Higher One Product Steering Committee, Mr. Jacobs has been influential in guiding the development of several of the company's products.

I want to move as far as possible into this world because it is what students are used to. They know technology. They do not want to go to offices to fill out paper forms. They don’t want to have to have face-to-face interaction with administrative offices or staff. Students want to go on the computer and do whatever they need to get done at their convenience.

"The number of students and parents using the system has far exceeded our expectations."

We’re using it for all student refunds now. With our old paper system, the students had to come to the administration building and fill out a form for their refunds after the drop/add period. Then they had to come back a couple days later to pick up a check. If they were from out of state, they would have to either open an account at a local bank or they would have to go to the school’s bank to cash their check. With the OneCard, we’re no longer printing 1,000 or 5,000 checks every semester, and the money is in the student’s account anywhere from seven to 10 days sooner than what it would have been with checks. Students are very happy. It’s been a big improvement for our institution.

OnePay allows students and parents to come to our website and pay various fees electronically. The number of students and parents using the system has far exceeded our expectations. We’re now using it for our tuition payments and our advance deposits. It’s really worked out well for us.

We have a lot of work/grant students, and we wanted to eliminate all of those payroll checks. They’re not making large salaries, but again they had to go negotiate checks and so forth. So we asked if Higher One could do the same program with payroll that they did with the refunds, which they did. Our payroll department loves it. Payments to these students are automatically transferred to their OneCard, just like the refunds. Students do not have to come in to get their checks and they don’t have to go to an off-campus bank to cash them.

Well, we were very interested in something called the Prox Card. It would be a student ID card that we could tie to new security systems on campus so that instead of students having to swipe a card to gain access to a building they would just have to walk past a reader and the door would open.

Somewhat, yes. The possibilities are endless. For instance, professors would have a card where they could walk into a classroom or a lecture hall, and because of what would be embedded on the microchip on that card it could automatically turn on all of the audio/visual equipment for the lecture and bring up the class roster on the computer for that date, that class. Or if the students had it, they could walk through the classroom door and boom, you’ve got automatic attendance. Or a student coming home late at night could enter a dorm just by passing by the card reader; she wouldn’t have to fumble for her ID card to swipe it. Meanwhile, the same card is your ATM card, your debit card, and a stored value card for laundry, copiers, vending machines, etc. Obviously these are things down the road but there are a lot of possibilities, and Higher One is doing some valuable preliminary work in this area.