April 28, 2016

Setting Goals!

Mary Johnson Written by

Financial Literacy Month 4As our financial literacy blog series comes to an end, we’d like to give a big thank you to all of those who have joined us each week to promote financial education on college campuses. For our last post, we’d like to talk about goal setting, topic ideas, and best practices. Financial literacy is a broad theme and can include anything from basic banking to car loans to renter’s insurance. Determining which topic to tackle can depend on the needs of your students and the goals set for your specific financial literacy efforts. Lastly, we will discuss a few commonalities that have helped define successful financial literacy programs across the country.

Starting any project requires the identification of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) goals. In effect, the goals set for your program should be clear and realistic, and in tune with a defined vision/mission from start to end. If your goal is to help students better understand the financial aid process, a SMART goal might be to increase the number of student FAFSA filings by 30% for the 2016-2017 school year. To reach this goal, the financial literacy program will need to focus on helping students complete their application in full and on time, and understand their financial aid package once received. It may also be helpful to emphasize the difference between grants and loans, and the other various aid sources such as instutional aid, private grants and scholarships, and work-study.

With a clear goal in mind, you are able to move forward in choosing a targeted topic and strategy. A competency goal can include increasing basic money management skills with a program that tackles topics such as budgeting, debt avoidance, earnings, savings, and investing. An identity protection goal would call for learning how to safeguard personal information and identifying documents. The school can also have a benchmark goal such as reducing account receivables or the amount of student loans borrowed. General topics beneficial to any financial literacy program can include: banking, credit scores, credit cards, insurance, retirement, saving, and economics.

Financial Literacy Month 3Thank you for joining us for the third installment of our financial literacy blog series. Now that we’ve covered peer mentoring, opportunities on campus, and delivery methods, let’s discuss how to reach students through promotion, resources, and swag. Without a dedicated communication and marketing plan, your financial literacy efforts may be all for naught when you realize so few students knew that your event was going on. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to resources and people on/off-campus that can help promote financial literacy. And of course, the word “free” resonates with many students so remember to have swag and freebies to encourage attendance.

Effective promotion begins with early contact through platforms that are relevant to your audience. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great ways to reach students, but you must use each strategically. Facebook is useful for notifying students of financial literacy programs and upcoming events. Creating a Facebook event page and asking students to RSVP can help give an idea about attendance. Promote often and early to reach the greatest number of students. Twitter is excellent for during an event and can be used to let students know the event is going on now in the quad, or tomorrow during lunch. Lastly, Instagram is for sharing photo content which can be submitted by students or taken during events by the team.  No matter which platform, decide on a hashtag that students can use to share their pictures with the school and one another. For those who may be wondering, a hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash or, as it’s also known, a pound sign (#) to identify messages for a specific topic on social media. Don’t forget you can always reach students the old fashioned way through email, school newspaper ads, and posters/banners.

Financial Literacy Month 2In the last post, we discussed the benefits of peer mentoring as a vehicle for teaching financial literacy. Here, we’d like to offer additional opportunities and methods to increase financial learning among students. We understand that building a financial literacy program on campus can be a challenge, especially when you’re not sure where to start or what to teach. A crucial first step is to survey your student population to discover points of interest or confusion that a financial literacy curriculum could help address. Choosing the best means of disseminating the curriculum can also be difficult. In this article, we’d like to focus on unseen opportunities on campus that could call for various delivery methods to reach a diverse audience.

Whether talking to incoming freshmen or graduating seniors, financial literacy is an important topic that needs to be delivered with the student in mind. Higher One has sponsored programs across the United States and gathered what we consider effective methods of delivery. Workshops, webinars, in-person & online classes, websites, and events/games often have a positive impact on a student’s financial learning. Opportunities to take advantage of include welcome week/orientation, tax season, special events, impromptu encounters, or signage. We’ll explore each of these in more detail.

Financial Literacy Month 1April is Financial Literacy month and our staff here at Higher One is excited to share with you a month‑long financial literacy blog series! Each week, we will be highlighting a few strategies colleges around the country have used to facilitate financial literacy education on campus. Today’s blog article focuses on peer mentoring as a means to propagate financial learning.

An effective financial literacy-peer mentoring program begins with a commitment from staff, students, and community.

  • Staff will need resources to train and prepare mentors on topics such as student loans, credit cards, insurance, retirement/savings, taxes, and building credit. Look to professors from the business department and local professionals who may be willing to give their time to instruct a group of mentors who will in turn teach their peers.
  • Students are asked to participate as mentors and/or mentees. Mentors wear many hats, acting as delegators, role models, cheerleaders, policy enforcers, advocates, and friends. Mentees come to communicate concern, ask for advice, listen, learn, grow, set goals, and make decisions to achieve these goals.
  • The community can be used as a resource and for support. Members of the public can enable financial literacy by contributing time, space, sponsorship, and/or expertise while also providing encouragement. Additionally, involving the community helps reinforce and broaden the reach of financial literacy within the neighborhood for students, parents, and future generations.

HOBlog FEB16 DigitalWalletThanks to the Digital Age, people around the globe are able to connect, discover, chat, and share opinions with just a few clicks on a computer or mobile device. Additionally, the emergence of ecommerce has expedited the need for faster, more convenient, and safer payment transactions. Examples of the technologies that have helped reduce checkout friction, improve sales conversion, and mitigate fraud include mobile POS, near field communication (NFC), digital currencies, online banking, EMV chips, and this post’s topic—digital wallets. 
Simply put, a digital wallet is a software application that stores an individual’s payment information which may include a verified address, debit card, credit card, and/or bank account numbers. The wallet can be device-based and accessed through an app, or internet-based and managed by signing into an account. Digital wallets provide a multi-layered, secure channel in which data is passed to a merchant and verified with payer-entered credentials, biometrics, or optional SMS texts. 

With a new year ahead and with past achievements to reflect upon, I wanted to take a moment to publicly thank our clients for their partnership and share an update. As you may have heard, we announced the pending sale of our refund disbursements and student account businesses last year. It is a significant move, and we are energized as we head down the path to becoming a dedicated payments business.

We have a strong foundation of employees who have been with CASHNet® since before it became a part of Higher One in 2009, and we’ve added talented and dedicated individuals to the CASHNet team both organically and via acquisition since then. The commitment from the team helped us grow the number of campuses last year while maintaining a very strong client retention rate. Not content with this performance, the team has begun to work on further changes to the way we support clients and the testing and rollout of product enhancements; two important points of emphasis for us in 2016.

In 2015, we launched a key strategic initiative aimed at creating a more intuitive and empowering user experience and a more streamlined user interface for our administrative users. Early feedback on these improvements has been positive and we look forward to rolling out a revamped eMarket set-up experience for Checkouts and Storefronts. We also began improvements to the user interface for payers by leveraging new technologies to increase choice and remove friction during the checkout process. We’re excited to launch these changes for our clients in each of our product releases this year.

Over the past few months, you may have heard the buzz about the future of Higher One’s Refund Management® Disbursement Service. We’ve been hard at work preparing for a seamless continuation of the service to Customers Bank’s BankMobile division following the closing date of the pending acquisition. Efforts are underway to finalize the deal, contingent upon Higher One shareholder approval, and aimed for the second quarter of 2016.

Upon the sale of the business, the Refund Management Service provided by BankMobile will continue to provide an industry-leading service that handles financial aid disbursements on behalf of more than 800 college and university campuses and more than 4 million students nationwide. The entire Higher One Disbursements team will continue on with BankMobile to serve these clients and their students in this next chapter.

MOX2015 2Post By: Melissa Ezarik, Managing Editor, University Business

Sweeping, whole-campus student success initiatives are a growing trend in higher education, as colleges and universities pour resources into efforts designed to help students succeed in the transition to college, throughout the college years, and after graduation. But trending in the student success sphere are programs developed to address the needs of a specific student group.

The honorees of the Models of Excellence awards program, developed by University Business with support from Higher One, are indicative of this trend. Several of the 17 institutions honored for their success initiatives in the Winter 2015 round of Models of Excellence last month are approaching them in a targeted way.

HOBlog JAN16 CollegeGoalSundayPost By: Doug Schantz, Director, Office of Student Accounts at Wittenberg University

Most people associate the month of February with Valentine’s Day or the Super Bowl. Given my vocation, I tend to think about the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)… and more importantly College Goal Sunday. As the college search process unfolds for millions of college bound students nationwide, it is vitally important to equip these students for success by connecting them with the financial resources that will support their educational endeavors. The FAFSA plays a critical role in college funding and research(1) has proven that high school seniors receiving assistance in filing the FAFSA are eight percent more likely to complete at least two years of college. So, as college administrators, it seems only fitting that we should be encouraging students to engage with the College Goal Sunday initiative and maybe even volunteer to support the cause with our own time and talents.

College Goal Sunday is a program that was founded in 1989 in Indiana with support from the Lilly Foundation and now has a presence across the nation in 40 states. Boasting over 10,000 volunteers, College Goal Sunday helps students and their families overcome the ambiguity associated with filing the FAFSA. While there are a number of resources available on the web to provide guidance with the FAFSA, nothing compares with the direct one-on-one advice and counseling offered through College Goal Sunday.

moneythinkHigher One is a proud sponsor of Moneythink, an organization devoted to expanding economic opportunity by helping low-income youth navigate the financial decisions of adulthood. Recognized by President Obama as one of the best new ideas for social innovation, Moneythink envisions a world in which every student enters adulthood equipped with the critical habits, tools, and resources to enable them to make smart financial decisions and get them on the path to prosperity. Co-founder and CEO Ted Gonder was previously a member of the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans and member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Finance list.

Using a 5:1 peer-mentoring model, college students are trained to work with area high school students in an intensive, weekly program that focuses on budgeting, saving, goal setting and other financial skills using a customized curriculum developed by Moneythink. Since its inception in 2009, the program has expanded to 30 college and university chapters across ten states, and has mentored over 10,000 students. These chapters are led by motivated college students who are interested in making a difference in their campus community. They are responsible for recruiting and training of mentors, and working with area high schools. With Higher One’s support, the first Connecticut chapter was launched in 2015 at Yale University which is working in the New Haven’s Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School.

GuideDo you dread having to determine which SAQ to complete before auditing your merchant accounts?  You’re not the only one.  Our friends at Coalfire want to help institutions like yours, optimize your PCI efforts by categorizing and organizing your merchant accounts.

Download the guide for in-depth tips and best practices.


HOBlog NOV15 TipsforShoppingSmartIf you are a college business or finance administrator, this is an especially busy time of year as you close out the semester and reconcile accounts. Add in the stress of holiday shopping and planning, and it is very easy to get off track with your own finances. Here are a few money wise tips for you (and for you to share with your students) to help keep it “green and serene” over the next few weeks.

Set a budget for your holiday spending
Take stock of what you may have already purchased and set a realistic budget for any remaining gifts you plan to buy between now and the end of the year. Also, don’t go shopping without a specific list of what you still need to buy and for whom. If you are already close to your spending limit, look for other affordable ways of giving such as these DIY gift ideas.

Don’t wait until the last minute
Making your holiday list early gives you the extra time to comparison shop to make sure you are getting the best deal. Also, most of the popular items tend to sell out early, so if there are a few of these “must have” things on your list, don’t procrastinate or you may find yourself frantically scouring multiple shopping venues which is not only stressful, but exhausting.

November 19, 2015

A Brief History of Payments

Teresa Chaidez Written by

HistoryIt’s hard to imagine life without a debit or a credit card. As a former “Charge It On My Card” aficionado, I used to think that plastic was the future! But with current trends in mobile payments, life without the convenience of Venmo or Apple Pay would border on apocalyptic for some Millennials. With mobile payments and digital wallets, ordering at a restaurant or paying back that IOU to your college roommate back in 2005 can be done with a few seconds of screen time. (In case you missed our P2P article, catch it here.) We all appreciate the convenience of not having to frantically sort through old takeout receipts in our back pocket or purse, searching for a checkbook, credit card, or torn up twenty dollar bill pulled from the ATM. By putting our purse strings at our fingertips, the smart phone has become even more indispensable—unless it’s drying out in a tub of rice.

SWCWe are very pleased to announce our new $tart with Change student website—www.startwithchange.com. This new site is devoted to helping students manage their finances more effectively, and replaces our old blog format with a more robust, easy to navigate and fully mobile-enabled platform that will appeal to all college students. The upgrade provides students with a more engaging, interactive experience that includes easy access to timely money management articles, quizzes, calculators and more. The new site reinforces Higher One’s commitment to increasing financial capability among all college students. Learn more about our $tart with Change initiative by reading our financial capability position paper.

We encourage you to visit the site and let us know what you think by emailing me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Your feedback is extremely important to us and will help us make sure we provide your students with the right money management information and tools to help them succeed!


HUGCONNECTRecently, Higher One hosted its second regional HUGConnect event at the New York Institute of Technology’s Old Westbury campus. The event, held at NYIT’s stunning de Seversky mansion, provided an absolutely spectacular venue for folks to spend a day connecting with peers from local campuses, engaging in face-to-face conversations about some of the biggest challenges facing the business office in higher education today.

In addition to interacting with business office leaders from other campuses, attendees were able to learn from Higher One executives and key guest speakers that, as one of our attendees put it, were “very dynamic and able to keep everyone engaged with the perfect amount of information and wit”—a true compliment, as wit can be scarce when discussing things like PCI DSS 3.1 certification.

Here’s a high-level review of what attendees experienced:

November 9, 2015

Tips on Training Your Staff

Veky Alarcon Written by

StaffTrainingNow that the semester is under way and students have settled into their daily classes and routines, it’s the perfect time to reflect on what we have learned from this refund season. Whether you have someone new on board or simply want to refresh your office's knowledge, here are some tips to make training easy, comprehensive and fun.

FinLitGrantHigher One is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of our Financial Literacy Counts grants. A total of $50,000 has been distributed to 15 schools in the program’s fifth year, which saw more than 125 applications from two- and four-year public and private institutions across the country. The program is designed to provide institutions with funding for critical financial literacy awareness campaigns, workshops, online financial literacy tools and other activities and resources that promote financial capability among college students and provide opportunities to increase students’ personal financial management skills and abilities. Since its inception, Higher One has awarded more than $250,000 in charitable support.

BLOGEMVPART3Last week, in our blog post “4 Key Questions to Consider in Determining Your Campus’s EMV Strategy” we shared some information to help you develop your EMV strategy, as well as the ideal time to implement this initiative.

By now, we hope you have a clearer understanding of the issue, and answers to the questions:

  • How many devices will you want to replace?
  • How much will it cost to replace these devices?
  • What is the total volume of card-present fraud you experience on campus?
  • When would it be advantageous to replace devices? (Keep in mind training, peak volumes, etc.

If your school has determined that your exposure to the liability for card-present fraud is too excessive to delay the implementation of EMV, you will likely be one of the early adopters. According to a recent survey by The Strawhecker Group, only 27% of U.S. merchants are expected to be in a position to accept EMV payments by October 1, and only 44% by the end of the year! This is not a bad thing, but you'll want to work closely with your payments software provider and/or your processor to ensure the hardware and software your campus requires is ready. You'll also want to think through additional training for your staff, who will likely have to educate payers on how to use the new EMV cards.

HOBlog SEP15 EMVseries part2Over the past few months we’ve been using our blog to help keep you informed on the ongoing EMV implementation in the United States, with the hope that it will help you prepare your campus's EMV strategy. While we are not far away from the October 1 liability shift date, don't fret if your campus is not in a position to accept EMV payments by that date. According to a recent survey by The Strawhecker Group, only 27% of U.S. merchants are expected to be able to accept EMV payments by October 1.

As we've said in previous posts, the liability shift is not a mandate, law or regulation. If you don't have the ability to process EMV payments after October 1, you'll still be able to process cards. Having said that, you will be on the hook for any fraudulent transactions if the payer tries to use an EMV card and your business office cannot process it. Remember, the liability shift pertains to EMV transactions. The side that is the weakest assumes liability for the fraud; meaning that if the card is not an EMV card, the issuing bank maintains liability. If the card is an EMV card and the merchant is unable to process that payment, then the merchant accepts liability.

To help you further define your EMV strategy, ask yourself these four questions:

September 15, 2015

EMV: Behind the Curtain

Don Smith Written by

EMVBEHINDTHECURTAINAs merchants and schools alike continue to prepare for the October 1 EMV liability shift date, we’ve heard many great questions from our campus partners. Because we can appreciate how confusing this can be with all of the information and misinformation in the market, earlier this year we shared some insight regarding EMV and how it relates to the higher education industry in the “What’s This About EMV?” blog post. Now, in this three-part EMV series, we will share greater insight about the EMV certification process for service providers, adopting an EMV strategy, and training and getting stakeholders on board.

First, let’s take a look behind the curtain. As a quick reminder, EMV’s intent is to prevent card-present, point of sale fraud. It does this by leveraging a dynamic data element on a smart chip in the card. EMV cards exist, and have existed for some time, in many other markets around the world.

This technology is finally making its way to the United States, which has one of the more complex payments ecosystems in the world—a fact the card brands (the entities driving the change) recognize and appreciate. As such, they’ve stopped short of a mandate in order to give people time to make the necessary arrangements to adopt this new technology. Let us emphasize that: THERE IS NO MANDATE. This is one of the most common misconceptions we hear in the market. Merchants think that if they don’t have their equipment in place by October 1, they will have to pay fines and/or won’t be able to process credit cards. Neither is true. What it does mean is that after October 1, if the merchant cannot process EMV cards, it assumes the liability for fraud, should that transaction be fraudulent.

With no mandate, we’ll be operating in a bit of a hybrid environment for the foreseeable future; payers will be using both EMV cards as well as magnetic stripe cards. EMV has been in place in Canada for a dozen years, and today 83% of transactions are EMV.

One of the largest changes for merchants is the hardware required to process an EMV transaction. To this end, we’d like to make sure you understand the difference between hardware that is EMV Ready vs. EMV Certified.

EMVAt Higher One we want to ensure that we keep up with industry relevant news. To make sure we continue to do that, we have reached out to Payment Week (a resource we often use to get up-to-date news) to collaborate on a few higher education specific pieces. You'll see links to those articles posted here on our blog over the next few months.

The first article is live! Click here to read "Universities Are Anxious About EMV (But Should They Be?)” where we help put EMV into a campus-by-campus perspective by offering a set of questions each institution should consider prior to formulating their campus strategy. By helping campuses think through these questions, you should be able to identify when the right time to make the switch to EMV is for your school.

Read the article now!

NSFWSTUDYAuthor: Bryan Ashton, Assistant Director, Ohio State University 

The increasing cost of attendance at colleges and universities is well documented, and is often coupled with increases in student loan debt and subsequent default. What has been less explored is how this increased cost affects college students’ decisions and their day-to-day financial wellness. The Ohio State University, in conjunction with six partner institutions, has released preliminary findings from a national study on college student financial wellness. The study examines student wellness through the lenses of:

  • Personal financial management
  • Financial support
  • Financial socialization
  • Credit cards
  • Student loans
  • Finance-related stress
  • Cost of college
  • Academic plans
  • Financial knowledge

The survey received responses from 18,795 undergraduate students at 52 institutions (including four-year public, four-year private and two-year public institutions).

PaymentPlanTuition costs are going up, and paying tuition in one lump sum can place an undue financial burden on families. According to How America Pays for College 2015, a study by Sallie Mae and market research company Ipsos, families spent $24,164 on average for college in the 2014-2015 academic year (including tuition, room and board and transportation)—a 16 percent increase from the previous year. And while 89 percent of parents believe that college is an investment in their child’s future, less than half (48 percent) of families are saving for college, and they are saving less than last year.

Tuition payment plans can ease the financial burden by giving students and families the ability to make manageable payments over time and the flexibility to choose the plan and monthly payment amount that is most affordable for their budget. Tuition payment plans also offer students an alternative to traditional student loans, which can often carry high interest rates.

Here are some of the best practices our payment plan clients have put in place to increase awareness and adoption of tuition payment plans on campus.

HOBlogTop5GraphicSummer is almost over and I’m sure we are all asking ‘Where has the time gone?” As administrators are thinking about all the work ahead, eager and excited students are already returning to campus. Refund season is upon us! Here is our list of the top 5 ways to be prepared for refund season:

SocialPayI recently read an article on TechCrunch.com that talked about how banks have failed to meet Millennials’ needs, including their desire for technological innovation. Millenials, defined as those aged 18–34 in 2015, are heavy users of social media and early adopters of technology. And according to a recent article by Pew Research, U.S. Census data shows that this year Millenials will outnumber Baby Boomers for the first time, making it the largest living generation in the United States. That means the potential market for innovative payment and finance-related technologies will be larger than ever.

Payment products are testing the social media waters by incorporating social elements within their technologies, and industry experts are watching the results with interest. Are Millennials in fact influencing the way we interact financially with each other? And if so, will it be a lasting impact?

There are many new financial apps, but today I’d like to highlight social elements within peer-to-peer (P2P) transfer apps.

There are four prominent players in this space, each offering a slightly different take on P2P transfers.

Venmo is a mobile app that allows P2P transfers for free, as long as the money comes from a bank account, major debit card or Venmo account (there’s a 3% charge for transfers using a credit card or “non-major” debit card). When you sign up, you’re automatically notified if any of your social media or phone contacts are also on the platform. When you transfer money to a contact, you also describe what it’s for. Your followers can see that you made a transfer, who you made it to, and what it was for, but not the dollar amount. Ebay, which acquired Venmo in 2013, won’t say how many users it has, but it processed $700 million in payments in the third quarter of 2014. During eBay’s fourth-quarter earnings call in January, eBay CEO John Donahoe said, “Venmo is on fire. If you go to any college campus across America, they talk about Venmoing money to each other.”

As institutions of higher education, colleges and universities have a vested interest in the success of their students. But what exactly makes a student successful? Yes, there are the standard components of good grades, attendance, etc., but “student success” doesn’t always have to be limited to cookie-cutter statistics. Any school that goes above and beyond to put their students on a better path to success deserves to be nationally recognized, and that’s exactly what brought Higher One, University Business and five institutions that are leading the charge in student success initiatives together at this year’s NACUBO conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

We at Higher One were thrilled to partner with University Business to host the 2015 Models of Excellence awards ceremony, to not only recognize colleges and universities who’ve demonstrated excellence in accomplishing student success, but also to help drive awareness of initiatives like these across the higher education industry (because there are some really great things going on!)

Webinar IconIn March we told you about EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa)—an international standard for cards that uses a dynamic chip to make transactions more secure. Already in use in much of the world, EMV is only now making its way into the payment infrastructure of the United States.

Due to the high volume of EMV questions and concerns we’ve received from our clients, our most recent webinar was on the EMV Effect and the potential impact EMV will have on higher education institutions nationwide. Our very own VP of Payment Product Management, Don Smith, gave an in-depth presentation on what EMV is, the intended goals of the liability shift, and how to identify a timeline that makes sense for your campus.

Catch the recorded session here.


cccslogoHigher One is pleased to announced that The Coalition for College Cost Savings has renewed its partnership with Higher One and will continue to provide Higher One’s full suite of CASHNet® Payment Solutions to its members—nearly 900 private colleges across 30 states.

The Coalition for College Cost Savings (www.thecoalition.us), a national member-owned nonprofit organization, was established in 2006 as a comprehensive and collaborative purchasing effort focused exclusively on independent, private higher education institutions.

Guest Post: Doug Schantz

Top10blogWhen it comes to student financial literacy, it’s hard to compete with the daily kitchen table conversations and teachable moments provided by mom and dad. But when students head off to college, they’ll need other resources to help them understand and manage their personal finances. Whether you’re a student or the parent of a college-bound student or a university administrator looking to enhance your campus’ financial literacy efforts, I hope you find the following free resources helpful.

logotype with subtitleWe are very excited that Higher One, along with its research partner Everfi, Inc., has been selected to present the results of this year’s Money Matters on Campus study at the National Financial Wellness Summit on June 30 at Indiana University.

The Summit provides an opportunity for higher education educators and administrators to share their passion for student financial wellness. An important aspect of the event, now in its second year, is the bringing together of educators and administrators from a variety of functional areas within higher education. Financial literacy does not reside neatly within any one department, and efforts are spearheaded through a variety of channels on campus including the financial aid office, business office, counseling centers and student life areas. The most effective programs are those that involve a cross-section of university participation and commitment, and that capitalize on all the resources available on campus.

AppleThe introduction of Apple Pay in October 2014 was perhaps the most visible moment in the consumer payments industry in recent years. Nearly 300 U.S. banks now support Apple Pay, and the ever-growing list of stores that accept Apple Pay may soon include Best Buy and Target. But should you jump on the Apple Pay bandwagon? Let’s review.

How does it work?
Apple Pay provides a fully tokenized mobile payment method for both in-store and online transactions. No card data, including encrypted card data, is stored or transmitted. When users load a debit or credit card from a participating issuer onto their phone, the issuer verifies that the credit or debit card account is valid and a token is generated and sent back to the device. The token is securely stored on the iPhone and used in lieu of card data to complete transactions. In a store, Apple Pay works by contactless payment via an NFC-enabled terminal.


  • User experience: Apple Pay offers a seamless and effortless mobile payment user experience. Both in store and in-app, Apple Pay loads automatically. All the customer has to do is confirm the transaction by holding the phone’s TouchID sensor.
  • Security: Apple Pay provides consumers with a high level of protection against fraud by requiring both the token and a transaction-specific dynamic code generated by the device. The use of Apple’s TouchID fingerprint sensor to authorize each payment adds an additional layer of security that other payment products do not offer.

Webinar IconIn case you missed the webinar on the CASHNet Mobile Payments app, here’s a quick recap.

We had great attendance with some great inquisitive questions. Pamela Wilkes, Higher One’s Director of Sales Support, talked about the development process, the pilot group we put together to test the early versions of the app, and finally some exciting implementation results from our friends at University of the Pacific and Gonzaga University.

Now that the app is ready for the market, we are excited to share with you the full details of the recorded webinar. If you’re interested in using the app at your school, contact us!


Author: Melissa Ezarik, Managing Editor, University Business Magazine

MOX2015 2Graduation rates and graduate employment rates will always be respected as data points related to student success. But the concept of student success in higher ed is evolving to mean much more. Campus administrators are working to help students succeed academically but also to immerse themselves successfully in campus life, manage finances well, attain life skills, do well in their first jobs and have fulfilling careers.

Collaboration between multiple departments (and sometimes students, community members or other external partners) is often the key to reaching institutional goals for student success. For example, one college’s success program involves weekly meetings where representatives from student advising, student support, campus life and student leadership analyze data to judge overall program effectiveness and determine which individual students need help immediately.

Author: Adil Haider, Marketing Manager, Western Union Business Solutions 

International StudentsThere are many challenges that a student faces when coming abroad to study, such as learning a new language, adapting to a new culture and customs and making tuition payments. Their initial arrival and experience in the first few months will determine whether they make a commitment to stay and continue studying at your institution or head back home to where everything is familiar.

As a host, it is important that you make your international students feel at home.
Although it’s an exciting experience for them, it is often quite overwhelming. When students arrive, they must begin new lives in an environment that is very different. This can be very frightening for a young person, who often has never traveled abroad before and often has never lived in another country. Initially, international students need assistance with the most ordinary things from buying food to making friends.
Here are some tips to help international students deal with some key challenges.

Webinar IconOn April 22nd, we held our second informative webinar about Regulation Z (Truth in Lending Act or TILA) and the impact to Tuition Payment Plans. Higher One was fortunate to be joined by guest speaker John Culhane, Jr., a partner with Ballard Spahr LLP’s Consumer Financial Services and Higher Education groups. John’s extensive knowledge on the subject of consumer protection and student lending was a welcomed resource and he was an honored contributor to our webinar. Assisting John through the webinar was Higher One’s very own Associate Counsel, Russell Tanguay, Jr., and Catherine Eklund, our industry expert and VP of Payment Plans.

With eighty-three representatives from our payment plan product lines, we had a full-house of clients eager to learn more about Regulation Z and state-based consumer credit laws, and their applicability to their in-house or external payment plans.

Financial Literacy Month was a great success, with more students than ever participating in $tart with Change.

startwithchangeDuring Week 1 of the Challenge, students were asked to review their spending over the last few weeks and identify two or three things they could have done without. As might be expected, dining out was the number one budget-buster. Here are two of the great comments that were posted on the $WC blog:

“After reviewing the items that I may have spent too much money on I narrowed it down to two main things, dining out and personal items. I use dining out as an excuse but if I allotted a little more time to preparing meals instead of flipping through menus I will be better off.”

“I took a look over my spending habits, and I realize I spend way too much on dining out. However, buying groceries and paying bills were next on the list. I learned from Start with Change that I should limit my dining expenses and curb what I’ve been spending at the grocery store. Start with Change gave me some useful tools I plan to utilize. Thank you.”

The other challenges asked students to share something new they learned about money, visualize the power of savings using our online calculator, and estimate their student loan payments. About 47 percent of students who responded to our online poll indicated that they had estimated their student loan payments. Here are a couple of comments we received:

“I definitely learned that I need to keep track of my student loans, and know my repayment options!! Thanks!” “What a very helpful tool! This surely brings light to how much you can realistically afford to borrow.”

With the CASHNet® Mobile Payments app gaining traction, it only made sense for us to set out and look for hardware that complements its sleek re-skin, ease of use and on-the-go characteristics.

Tablet ImageSo we came up with a list of some of our favorite tablet holders. Here’s our list:

  1. Float-A sophisticated and industrial design, the Float floor stand is great for when you need to be truly mobile but need hands-free hardware. The solid metal framing, ease of movement, and lightweight features will be sure to have you look like you mean business.
  2. Do you plan to just sit behind the table processing transactions with no need to get up? Umirro Table Clamp stand might be perfect to suit your needs. Adjustable to eye level (or any level) with a flexible joint so that you can adjust to your comfort, this table clamp version is stable, is sure to provide stability, flexibilityflexible and offers you the space you need to process your transactions while keeping your area clear of bulky hardware.
  3. TabletTail: Spider Monkey- Used as a tabletop or lap accessory, this gadget is easy to pack and set up. The simple yet genius design has consumers raving about the various ways it can be positioned. This holder boasts a solid 4.5 star rating on Amazon, and simply put, we love how funky and versatile it is!
  4. Padlette-Okay, we can’t take the credit on this one. Our friends at University of the Pacific let us in on their favorite and sent us pictures of how they’re using it! A Padlette is completely flexible (even allows you to stuff it in your pocket) and doesn’t require you to stay fixed in one spot. This holder reduces the risk of dropping the iPad AND it’s offered in various colors!
  5. And last but not least, for those of us with a childish sense of humor and a strict budget, we give two thumbs up to the Honskey tablet holder. This rubber and durable stand allows for vertical and horizontal dimensions and prevents scratching and sliding from the surface it is placed on. If you’re looking for a conversation starter, we put our money on this one!

There were a few more that caught our attention and had great consumer reviews. If any of the previously mentioned don’t tickle your fancy, check out:

  1. Anker® Multi-Angle Portable Stand
  2. BrainyGadgets tablet holder
  3. LapWorks soft grip iPad holder

Click here to inquire about the CASHNet Mobile Payments app.


April is National Financial Literacy Month and Higher One’s $tart with Change initiative is in full swing. We began the month with the release of the third-year results of Money Matters on Campus, a survey of 43,000 college students across the U.S. The launch event, held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on April 2, was moderated by Beckie Supiano, staff reporter at The Chronicle of Higher Education, and featured an engaging panel discussion that included Joe Duran, chief operating officer, Moneythink; Mary Johnson, vice president of financial literacy and student aid policy, Higher One; Ryan Law, director of the Office for Financial Success and the Center for Economic Education, University of Missouri; and Nan Morrison, CEO of the Council for Economic Education.
The study shows that students are taking out more and larger student loans, yet report feeling less prepared to manage their money than any other aspect of college life. In addition, though students reported a higher level of financial experience than in previous years of this study, they did not report increased levels of responsible financial behavior. Only 58 percent of students from four-year institutions said they were prepared to manage their money, while 12 percent of respondents said they never check their bank balances because they are too nervous. Further, 16 percent of student respondents lived paycheck to paycheck and only three-quarters stopped spending when their bank account balances were low.
We also opened the Financial Literacy Counts grant application period, which runs through May 30, 2015. The program provides seed grants to colleges and universities across the country to initiate or expand their financial literacy efforts on campus. To date, Higher One has supported over 60 institutions in their quest to increase the financial capability of their students. Please be sure to download the application if you are interested in applying.
For students, we also launched the $tart with Change Challenge of the Week. Each week during the month of April, students are asked to complete a financial challenge related to their college experience, such as estimating their student loan payments or looking over their spending and identifying a few things they could have done without. Students who complete the challenge and submit a comment about their experience are entered for a chance to win gift cards.
We also recently unveiled a new student initiative, inspiring students to rethink their American Dream and focus more on their educational aspirations. On that note, if you haven’t already done so, please watch our new video announcing $tart with Change and describing our commitment to student success.

Campus administrators, CFOs and bursars may wonder if their campus should accept Bitcoin, the virtual currency that has made headlines for the last few years, as a potential payment method. To provide some perspective, we’ve pulled together a few facts about Bitcoin as a thought starter.

These days, we’re used to conducting business without the intervention of a human. So when you do have an in-person transaction, make it count. Here are five easy tips to ensure that each face-to-face interaction leaves your students feeling like valued customers.

  1. Smile. Tuition and other expenditures can be a major source of stress and concern for students—the last thing they need is to be faced with someone who seems unapproachable. An inviting smile will put students at ease and make them feel comfortable enough to ask any questions they may have.
  2. Listen and be attentive. A financial transaction is like going to the doctor. As a patient (or customer), you want someone to listen to you, not someone who distractedly rushes you through the formalities. Chances are, if a student is conducting an in-person tuition transaction, they have a question about their account. Be sensitive to the student’s needs and answer questions clearly and patiently, especially when dealing with freshmen, who are still familiarizing themselves with college processes, and international students, who are acclimating to a foreign culture.
  3. Anticipate questions and provide answers. You are in a position to know what questions students may have, even if the student doesn’t know what they should be asking. Give students a full explanation of all options available to them. For example, a student struggling to pay tuition may not know they have the option of using a payment plan. The value of an in-person interaction is that you are in a position to offer intelligent assistance based on your own knowledge, not just answer questions like a robot. By offering options, you can help ease the burden of paying for school, which studies have shown can increase the student’s chances of graduation.
  4. Accept many types of payment. Cash, credit, debit, ACH, wire—the more options offered, the more convenient for the customer. Making a payment is difficult enough mentally—at least make the physical process quick and pain-free.
  5. Help the medicine go down. It may seem silly, but having a bowl of candy, gum or mints “sweetens” the deal. Let your customers walk away with a good taste in their mouths—both literally and figuratively.

HUG 2015 offered several opportunities for clients to hear about Higher One’s efforts to empower students’ financial capability.  The Money Matters on Campus session focused on the pillars of student success, and how helping students manage their day to day finances is an important component of that equation.  The session provided a “sneak preview” of this year’s results of our Money Matters on Campus study, a national survey of 65,000 first-time college students.  We also introduced our new financial literacy initiative, $tart with Change℠ financial education, which has a newly rebranded student website, student contests, institutional grant programs, and sponsorship of teacher training and financial literacy programming for high school students.  Clients really enjoyed viewing one of the winning videos from our Money on My Mind video contest.

The Higher One Users Group Conference (HUG) was recently held in Dallas, TX and provided a great opportunity for Refund Management® Disbursement Service clients to participate in discussions regarding fraud, financial literacy, orientation presentations as well as new features that are being added to our service over the next 12-18 months! The regulatory environment is expected to change during this time, and being prepared for these changes is critical. Higher One had the opportunity to share plans we have in place to not only be ready for these changes, but to also focus on enhancements that our customers have asked for including:

  • Providing students with options to choose their refund preference without the debit card
  • Offering immediate solutions for students who lose/do not have their green envelope through the use of a Personal Code
  • Allowing students that have selected the OneAccount immediate access to funds through a virtual debit card if the debit card isn’t available

Feedback was very positive in discussing these enhancements and some suggestions for improvements were provided by clients and those recommendations will be implemented before the release.

March 16, 2015

What’s this about EMV?

Don Smith Written by

EMV Card Stock PhotoBy this point, you’ve probably heard about EMV. You may have even received a new EMV card in the mail from your bank. But what does EMV really mean? How will it impact you, your employees and your customers?

We’ve received a number of questions from our campus partners, so I thought it would be helpful to spend some time discussing EMV.

EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa. This is an international standard for cards that leverage a dynamic chip for a more secure point-of-sale (POS) transaction. EMV has been in use in many places throughout the world (Europe, Asia, Canada, etc) for quite some time, but is just making its way to the complicated payment infrastructure of the United States; which some would argue, is the most complicated payment system in the world (USA! USA! USA!).

March 12, 2015

HUG Update from Don Smith

Don Smith Written by

Recently, more than 150 Higher One clients descended on an ice-covered Dallas to discuss a number of aspects of our products and services. The first part of the week was focused on the sharing of best practices and the sharing of our strategic priorities for the CASHNet® suite. Users of the products took turns presenting on the ways that their campuses were unlocking value and improving service for students and their parents. Highlights included:

  • A conversation on incorporating the CASHNet® mobile app to mobilize the campus business office featuring Linda Wilson from Gonzaga University and Matt Camino from the University of the Pacific.

  • A deep dive into the useful, but potentially unknown features of the CASHNet® suite with California State University Long Beach’s John Fugatt and Higher One’s Eileen Gazzuolo.
  • An educational session on the differences between a CASHNet® Checkout and Storefront and the benefits of each in various scenarios by Ben Johnson of Ball State University.
  • An illustration of how Ali Javadi and Mike Calvin, both from Valencia College, successfully leveraged CASHNet® Dynamic Billing to implement a real-time billing and student schedule solution, which is easily accessible via the campus’ student web portal.
  • A seminar on how Sally Burns at Michigan State University was able to both make life easier for international students and her staff through the adoption Higher One and Western Union’s integrated module for accepting international ACH payments.

At HUG 2015, I previewed new features and services that Higher One intends to introduce this year for OneAccount customers.  The presentation featured many of the insights we gathered from listening and working with students all across the country.  Did you know that 16% of students (2.9 million) don’t have a traditional checking or savings account? I described how Higher One had addressed some of their most pressing needs in 2014 with the launch of a simplified Bill Pay experience, a money management mobile app, and new financial literacy tools. But the most exciting (and unique) new features are yet to come. These are the features that students helped us design and refine in “co-creation” sessions.

March 5, 2015

HUG 2015 a Success!

Andrew Crawford Written by

Higher One just concluded a successful Higher One Users Group (HUG) conference in Dallas, with record attendance! Over the course of the week, presenters and colleagues shared best practices, company updates, status of regulatory progress and our product and service plans for 2015.

HUG is a great place to network, learn and listen. I was thrilled to hear from many of our clients that they felt this was our best conference ever and am so excited to announce significant changes to our Refund Management® Disbursement Service and CASHNet® Payment Solutions suites including, but not limited to:

Refund Management: Personal Code For New Students

Card CarrierIn May 2015, Higher One intends to begin including a Personal Code in the enrollment packet for new students. The alpha-numeric Personal Code will be used to authenticate and begin the refund selection process instead of the sixteen-digit number on the card. This enhancement has been tested and the communication with students and parents concerning this new experience has been well-received.

For convenience, an inactive Higher One Debit MasterCard will continue to be included in the enrollment packet for those students who choose to open a OneAccount.

Refund Management: Instant Personal Code For Administrators

With the Instant Personal Code enhancement an administrator will have the ability to generate an Instant Personal Code for students that will be immediately emailed so that they can select a refund preference without having to wait for a new enrollment packet in the mail.

January 14, 2015

Welcome to Our New Website!

Lutz Braum Written by

At Higher One, we are committed to getting better. As part of that philosophy, we have launched an all-new website, with improved navigation, more information, and more ways for you to interact with us. 

What’s New

You’ll find comprehensive sections for all of our Products and Solutions, with everything you need to know—whether you’re an existing Higher One client or you’re interested in learning more about us. Our Solutions page provides an all-in-one-place overview of our payments, refunds and data analysis solutions, as well as our exciting new $tart with Change financial education initiative. In our Products pages, you’ll find specific information on:

  • Our CASHNet® Payment Solutions suite of products, including add-on modules and details on our CASHNet Certification Training
  • Features and functions of our Refund Management® Disbursement Service, including how it works, the choices available to students and the benefits your campus can expect to see
  • Information on the comprehensive suite of data analysis solutions available from Campus Labs
January 8, 2015

Mary Talks Money

Mary Johnson Written by

i startwithchange We believe that all college students can become financially capable when reached with the right methods of financial literacy education, and when given access to and experience with banking and financial services. To that end, we use a variety of channels to help students learn to manage their finances more effectively. Through our new $tart with Change program we offer a website designed specifically for today’s college student that offers useful articles, tips and tools on topics such as limiting student loans, budgeting, building credit and protecting their identity.