SGA says it’s done with Higher One
There’s no place for liars and thieves at UH, and the Student Government Association understands this. There has now been a proposal to get rid of the Cougar Refund Card by cutting ties with Higher One and its card distributor, The Bancorp Bank.
According to the proposed bill, Higher One and Bancorp have been ordered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to pay restitution in the amount of $11 million to 60,000 students nationwide.
SGA has also given a vote of no confidence toward Higher One and has requested UH administrative officials to strongly consider cutting off all ties with Higher One for its infractions.
The call for Higher One’s removal should be welcomed by all UH students, especially for those who have been affected in the past by its unfair and deceptive business practices. The FDIC has cited it for charging multiple non-sufficient fund fees for a single transaction, publishing misleading marketing material and taking funds directly from student deposits if the account holder owes money to the bank.
The move to keep Higher One as far away from student refund money should also be prompted since Bancorp has cut all ties with it following the FDIC’s decision. Because Bancorp was unable to ensure that Higher One remained in compliance with federal law, they were fined heavily by the FDIC.
Not included in the SGA proposal to cut ties with Higher One was SGA president Cedric Bandoh, who desires to move away from plastic-based money entirely. It’s a noble suggestion but would just be a step back, putting an unnecessary burden on students who need that refund immediately to pay for other expenses such as books.
Forcing students to wait in line at the bursar’s office or wait for a paper check to come in the mail will lengthen the amount of time it takes for everyone to get their refund. It will also put an undue burden on the University.
The financial aid office would have to hire more hands and add extensive administrative costs to make sure everyone gets their money on time. There was a reason a company offering to give students refunds through a card was tempting in the first place: it was faster and easier.
Higher One was a mistake and steps should be made to distance UH from similar trustworthy companies. Students shouldn’t be scared to trust plastic money since it’s so common. UH has always been a school based on progress, and despite this setback, the University should continue to give students access to their refund money in an easily accessible card.
Perhaps a compromise can be reached. It’s obvious that outside banking institutions will be difficult to trust. Paper checks are too slow and provide a hassle for students and administrators.
A good common ground would be for UH to be its own banking system, issue its own bank card and disperse refunds directly. It would cut out the middle man and the wait. The theory of financial aid refunds is that the money paid to the University is too much, so it should give back to the students.
This is all up in the air because SGA is only a student advisory committee to the actual administration. Its proposal is just that — a proposal, and Chancellor Renu Khator gets the final say. Students should know that Khator is a generous and attentive leader who listens to the plight of her people. The first step toward ensuring the safety of student money will be to remove Higher One from campus.
Students should email their student leaders with their complaints and stories about any misdeeds Higher One has committed against them, and play a part in helping the proposal become a reality.
James Wang is a history sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].