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Paperless campus goal leads technical school to partner with Higher One

Gateway Technical College, with campuses in three Wisconsin counties, has chosen New Haven, Conn.-based Higher One, a financial services and payment company focused exclusively on higher education, to distribute refunds to its students.

“We expect students to receive their refunds faster while reducing the amount of labor in the Student Accounts Office and the Financial Aid Office,” says Terry Simmons, student success vice president at Gateway. “We want to make this pervasive throughout the institution so that students will have easier and faster access to the funds they need to pay for books or other school supplies. Being a technical college, we strive to be a paperless, cashless, technology driven campus.”

Higher One currently works with more than 180 campuses in the United States to distribute refunds to students more quickly. Gateway is the fifth higher education institution in Wisconsin to work with Higher One.

“We chose Higher One for a few reasons,” Simmons said. “We wanted to provide students with convenient access to an optional checking account and debit card with ATM access on campus. We also like that the OneCard is created for us; with a design that represents Gateway Technical College. This is more than just a refund vehicle, it is an opportunity for our student population to gain some experience with controlling their personal finances.”

Utilizing changes to the Department of Education regulations surrounding the distribution of Title IV funds, Gateway will be offering each student two electronic ways to receive their refunds from the College: direct deposit to a no minimum balance, no monthly fee, FDIC-insured checking account provided by Higher One or an ACH to another bank of the student’s choosing.

“The decision to offer students two electronic ways to receive their refunds was another in a series of moves we have made to realize our goal of becoming a paperless campus,” stated Simmons. “We want to reduce the use of paper to be both cost-efficient and environmentally friendly.”

Given the increased cost of education and the decrease in public funding available to colleges and universities, a number of institutions are looking for ways to make their business offices more efficient. One area institutions can do this is by eliminating paper check refunds to students; a costly and laborious process.

“We briefly considered building and running our own ACH program, but ultimately decided that it was too expensive and time consuming of a process,” says Simmons. “We chose to go with a company that has a well established program; one that has been successful at campuses across the country.” Gateway will begin issuing refunds to students through Higher One during the Fall Semester
of this year.

Gateway will begin issuing refunds to students through Higher One this fall. About 5,000 full time students are registered in over 65 career training programs.

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