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Understanding the OneAccount

When a college or university partners with Higher One to provide electronic refund disbursement, students are given the option of depositing their refunds into a no monthly fee, no minimum balance Higher One checking account, called a OneAccount. Casey McGuane, Higher One's chief service officer, provides answers to common questions about the OneAccount.

Yes. Every OneAccount is insured by the FDIC, currently for amounts up to $250,000. In addition, student refunds are protected by FDIC insurance from the moment a school authorizes payment until the funds are deposited in the student’s bank account, regardless of where the student banks.

Yes. No minimum balance, no monthly fee OneAccounts can be opened by any students enrolled in your school, regardless of whether they receive a refund. Students can deposit money into their OneAccounts from any source, including payroll direct deposit plans, transfers from a parent or hometown bank account, and of course with checks and cash.

Our online and bank-by-phone features allow students to check their balances, pay bills, transfer money to and from other bank accounts, and even get text message alerts about low balances. There’s also a money management tool provided by Quicken. And all these features are free.

It’s called the OneCard, and it is a MasterCard debit card. It looks and functions exactly like the debit cards that most college students have been familiar with since high school. Like any other standard debit card, it can be used to withdraw cash from the Higher One ATM on campus or at ATMs anywhere else, and it can be used to make purchases online and at retail stores worldwide.

Absolutely not. The OneAccount bank card is a debit card, not a credit card. Unlike some other debit cards, it does not carry an overdraft credit line, so students cannot incur debt or interest charges through their relationship with Higher One. In addition, they cannot overdraw their accounts at ATMs, and Higher One routinely declines point-of-sale transactions for insufficient funds.

No. Students can continue to use their One-Account for as long as they want.

Two sets of federal regulations relate to working with third-party partners for electronic disbursement of student refunds. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Education issued regulations that now encourage the adoption of electronic distribution of refunds and credit balances. These regulations also established better guidelines to help colleges and universities partner with third-party vendors to realize benefits of electronic distribution and move away from paper checks. And in January 2009, changes to the FERPA rules clarified what kind of information schools can share with vendors, which reflects an emerging trend among colleges and universities to engage with third-party partners.