You Asked and You Shall Receive, Direct Deposit Now Available for Financial Aid Refunds

By Danielle Benedict, student service specialist

June 22, 2012

Empire State College has entered into a partnership with Higher One Inc. to provide improved financial aid services for students effective with the September 2012 term.

Many students receive refunds of financial aid they have been awarded that is in excess of institutional charges, and some rely on these refunds to pay for other expenses such as housing, transportation and meals. The college often receives requests for faster processing of these refunds, such as direct deposit into students' personal bank accounts. The college could not easily provide this sort of service because the storage of banking information is so heavily regulated. Therefore, the college has contracted with Higher One to improve refund services, ensuring payments will be issued in a more timely and efficient manner and the college is in compliance with state and federal regulations regarding financial data and financial aid disbursement.

Students will receive a co-branded (both Higher One and SUNY Empire State College’s logo appear on the card) card by mail, and information directing them to go to to select the method they'd prefer used for receipt of their refund. The choices will be:

  • a paper check mailed to them
  • direct deposit into their personal savings or checking account
  • a Higher One bank account; if they choose this option, the co-branded card becomes the student's debit card to access funds deposited in their Higher One bank account.

All registered federal financial aid students will receive a card, and mailing of the cards begins in late June. Students are urged to make their choice at as soon as they receive their card. When refunds are initiated, the college will send the wire transfer and information to Higher One, which then will issue refunds using the student's choice of delivery. Deposits into Higher One bank accounts are available within hours. Higher One then sends deposits into other bank accounts within hours (although the student's bank may take time to credit the student's account, and there will be mail time for checks). If a student does not make a choice, Higher One will attempt to reach the student to do so. If the student still does not make a choice, Higher One will mail a paper check after 21 days.

Higher One adheres to all regulations related to federal financial aid, including FERPA and cash management laws. The company was highly recommended and is used by other SUNY schools. The college does not receive any incentive, bonus or other compensation from Higher One.

It is not necessary for students to open a Higher One bank account to receive their refunds. If a student does open a Higher One account, all possible fees (and how to avoid them) are listed on the Higher One fee website at

More information is available at or you may contact Student Accounts at if you have any questions about the new refund process. Additional information will be posted on MyESC, and students also will receive emails when their cards have shipped.

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Article Contributors
  • Danielle Benedict
  • Helen Edelman
  • Suzanne Hayes
  • Hope Ferguson
  • Pamela Malone
  • Ann Therese McCorkell
  • Vickie Moller
  • Jennifer Ward
  • Evelyn Wells
  • Betty Wilde-Biasiny

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