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Let's make a deal: How to compare student loans

By Chris Couch
April 3, 2014

If you're heading off to school, odds are you're doing it with financial assistance. The federal government offers at least $27,000 in loans to all dependent undergrads pursuing a four-year degree, and at least $45,000 to independent undergrads. The problem is that federal loans have strict limits. Many dependent freshmen, for example, can only borrow $5,500 to cover their first year, a drop in the bucket compared to the $31,701 price tag that accompanies one year at the average four-year public college. Private or "alternative" loans are designed to fill the monetary gaps, but unlike federal loans, which are standardized, interest rates and repayment terms vary significantly between lenders. Here's how to start finding the best deal you can on student loans.

Ask Uncle Sam

An overwhelming number of students take out private loans every year, but many don't have to. According to the Project on Student Debt, one in four private loan borrowers went straight to a private lender without tapping federal loans first. That's a costly mistake, says Mary Johnson, director of financial literacy and student aid policy for Higher One, a company that provides financial services for college campuses.nt loans.

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 Reminder news

Young adults to get advice on how to manage debt wisely

April 03, 2014

The millennial generation came of age at a time of soaring college costs and during a recession from which the economy is still struggling to recover. Today, their student loan debt has surpassed the $1 trillion mark, while the post-recession labor market has made it difficult for even highly-qualified young adults to find well-paying jobs.

In response to this double money challenge, “Beer, Burgers & Managing Your Bucks,” a monthly networking/financial education gathering for 20- and 30-somethings at MCC on Main, is devoting its April 9 event to the topic of “Smart Debt Management.”

Mary K. Johnson, Director of Financial Literacy and Student Aid Policy at Higher One, a New Haven-based company that provides financial services and data analytics to more than 1,600 colleges, will be on hand with advice for young people on everything from raising their credit scores to evaluating their post-college student loan repayment options.

Read More Here.


 Manchester Patch

Smart Debt Management at April 9th's "Beer, Burgers & Managing Your Bucks"

Marcie LaBelle
April 02, 2014

If you’re young and in debt, you’re not alone.  In a recent survey, Fidelity found that the class of 2013 left school with an average of $3,000 in credit card debt and $26,000 in student loans.

Clearly, these liabilities are a major concern for those in the early stages of their adult lives.  While there is no undoing the past, young adults who are smart about how they manage what they owe can greatly improve their future.  At the next Beer, Burgers & Managing Your Bucks on Wednesday, April 9 (6:00 PM) at MCC on Main in Manchester, personal finance expert Mary K. Johnson will offer attendees sound strategies for raising their credit scores, reducing the cost of their debt and accelerating their pay-back time.  

Mary is currently Director of Financial Literacy and Student Aid Policy at Higher One, a New Haven-based company that provides financial services and data analytics to over 1,600 colleges.   She conducts on-campus financial literacy workshops and is a money blogger for the Huffington Post.  In addition, Mary has served as Associate Commissioner of Finance and Administration for the Connecticut Department of Higher Education, where she oversaw the development and administration of the state’s student financial assistance programs.

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 huff post

The Devil Is in the Details: Sizing Up College Financial Aid Offers

By Mary Johnson
April 1, 2014

For families getting ready to send a child off to college this fall, sizing up financial aid offers can be daunting. At first glance, it may seem like some of the schools are offering to cover all of your costs, but the devil may be in the details. As you and your child make the decision about where to send that deposit check by the May 1 deadline, here are some tips for determining what your choice will cost you.

First, Look at the Net Price

When reviewing financial aid packages, the most important thing to focus on is the "net price" for each school -- or how much you will have to pay out-of-pocket after factoring in grants and scholarships. To find out which option is most affordable, start by identifying the total cost or the "cost of attendance" for each school. This estimate should be included in the offer letter and includes required tuition and fees, housing and meals and other costs such as books, supplies and transportation. Keep in mind that these "other" costs are only estimates provided by the school and may vary based on program of study, distance from home and other factors.

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Before Higher One, our students only had one way to get their refunds, and that was by paper check. With Higher One processing refunds for us, it has allowed us to provide more options for our students without having to enter and store student banking information. We also no longer have to handle sorting, stuffing and mailing thousands of checks.Suzanne ClaggettUniversity of West Florida
Higher One’s experience with college students and their focus on serving colleges distinguishes Higher One from all other financial service providers. We really liked the fact that the community college customer base is expanding for Higher One.Carla Chance St. Louis Community College

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