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UM Adopts Paperless Financial Aid, Refund Disbursement

University of Montana students soon will receive UM Debit Cards as part of a new program to electronically disburse all future financial aid and refund payments.

The new cards are marketed as the students’ “key to choice.” They will allow each student to have the option to create an account accessed by the card or to have the funds transferred immediately into an existing account via direct deposit.

“Going paperless with these UM-themed cards will save the University a lot of money,” said Mark Pullium, director of UM Business Services. “It also will be faster and more convenient for our students. This offers a much better choice than our old paper system.”

Even if students elect to use direct deposit, they are asked to keep the debit card because it can be used to make changes in how they participate in the refund program in the future.

Pullium also stressed that it’s vitally important that students immediately make sure their current mailing addresses on file with UM are up to date to ensure they receive their new debit cards and can participate in the program.

UM has partnered with Higher One, a national financial services company focused on higher education, to bring the electronic payment program to Missoula. Higher One encourages students to activate their cards as soon as they receive them.

“Remember, even if you are not currently expecting a refund from UM, we may have a refund for you in the future,” Pullium said.

As part of the program, Higher One offers an Easy Refund program that will allow students to gain access to their money the same day that UM releases it for distribution.

Students will be mailed a card with instructions on how to log on to a secure website. After logging on they will be asked to confirm their primary e-mail and mailing addresses and will be required to select how they will receive their refunds. Students can elect to have refunds direct deposited to the bank of their choice or select an electronic transfer to OneAccount – an optional Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-insured, no-monthly-fee, no-minimum-balance checking account provided by Higher One.

Should the student create a OneAccount, the card the student received in the mail becomes a Debit MasterCard accepted at millions of locations worldwide. Additionally, students can sign up for text or e-mail notifications and can pay bills online through a secure website.

“The ultimate reason we decided to use Higher One was security,” Pullium said. “We wanted a company that is compliant with federal financial aid rules and regulations. Our ultimate goal with this new refund program is to provide better options for our students while providing superior customer service.”

To learn more about the benefits associated with the new UM Debit Card, visit Debit Card.