Tired of Refund Checks 'Lost in the Mail,' an Iowa College Goes All-Electronic: Des Moines Area Community College Brings Higher One's OneDisburse[R] Refund Management[R] to Its 27,000 Students

Article excerpt

When it came time to mail financial aid refund checks at Des Moines Area Community College each semester, officials always worried about how many of those checks the post office would return as undeliverable. With nearly 27,000 students attending more than 3,000 classes on six campuses, it was inevitable that many of those students would have forgotten to inform the school of a new address.

As the problems with mailing checks mounted, administrators at DMACC decided it was time to go another direction. They surveyed the student body to learn more about how they would like to receive refunds.

"The students wanted to receive their refunds quicker by electronic means, and administratively it was becoming more and more of a time burden to issue all those checks. Plus, we did not have a back up check printer and sealers in the

event of equipment problems," explained Ben Voaklander, assistant controller at DMACC.

With the knowledge that students would prefer to receive their refunds electronically, DMACC began to search for a company that would help make the college's refund disbursement process more efficient. The school had considered implementing its own system, but rejected that option as cost prohibitive. Ultimately DMACC chose to partner with

Higher One, which gives students a refund card that doubles as a college ID. "We wanted an official college photo ID, and Higher One could wrap everything we wanted into one card," Voaklander said.

Every student at DMACC is sent a card in the mail. This card is the key to choice. Students use their card number to log onto a secure website to confirm their address and select a method to receive their financial aid refund.

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DMACC chose to establish an electronic-only refund policy. …