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Portland State Outsources Financial Aid

Portland State University's administration, without consulting with the student body, has signed a contract with a private bank that will replace student identification cards with privately operated debit cards. The student body is angered by this decision, and is taking action to stop the contract.
Portland State University's new 'student identification' card.
Portland State University's new 'student identification' card.
Privatization and outsourcing have been extremely hot topics during this presidential campaign, with some people in favor and some opposed. But few people are aware of the next wave in privatization; student financial aid. All over the country, and now here in Portland, universities have farmed out their financial aid disbursement services to private companies that have little or no incentive to provide students with reasonable services.

Eighteen months ago the director of Portland State's Office of Business Affairs, Dee Wendler, signed a contract with Higher One, a Connecticut based company that specializes in privatized financial aid disbursement. Under the terms of the contract, all Portland State University students will receive a new identification card which doubles as a debit card. There is no process in place for students to opt out of the new identification card system. In order to receive a financial aid disbursement, PSU students will be required to activate their card, and will be encouraged to sign up for a Higher One checking account.

At two student forums this afternoon members of the student body, and the ASPSU (PSU's student government organization) expressed strong reservations about the new system. Representatives from the administration and the bank fielded questions related to these concerns, but by and large the students were not reassured.

The ASPSU is implementing a boycott of Higher One, asking students to opt out of the checking account portion of the program. Meetings are to take place later this week to plan for further tactics.
Correction 19.Oct.2004 23:05


The contract was not signed 18 months ago. It was signed earlier this year after a 18 month process that did not included student input.

old news 20.Oct.2004 02:39


It's already been done. They had to postpone it... but it allready exists they have contracted a bank to make our ID cards which will serve as ATM type cards as well as our student ID'S. it's happening... My financial aid was processed by a corporation in georgia eventhough I didn't have to deal with the new forced banking idea. I luckilly got in early enough. But next year you have no coice it's their bank or no bank. Fuckin bastards even privatising our government guaranteed student loans. yet another reason to say fuck the state or system. educate yourself. fight if you can. when they corporatise us it's war!!
when they don't count our votes it's war!! when they marginalize anyone it should be war!
they are waging war on us why don't we fight back????? privilege or not fight!!! fuckers put your privilege on the line.

RE: Correction 20.Oct.2004 08:31


Thank you, Joseph, for the correction.

Debit Cards do not offer the same protection as credit cards 20.Oct.2004 09:24


It's a well know fact that debit cards do not offer the same protection for purchases under the law that regular credit cards do. Consumer radio show personality Clark Howard (www.clarkhoward.com) is always railing on debit cards (AKA Fake Visa or Fake Mastercards) and advising consumers against them.

I agree that this decision without input from students is just plain wrong. Something should be done. And if you have a Debit card you should look into the law and realize the reason your bank is pushing them is because they are better for the banks than they are for you...

pros & cons 20.Oct.2004 09:54

non financial aid PSU student

I do appreciate reading un censored opinions. I'd like to see some facts on what is good about the card. How much money will it save PSU? If it does save money, will the students benefit from the savings and how? I hear many comments that the new card isn't very secure. If it isn't, how does it compare with today's regular id card in regards to security?
I'd also like to hear what is bad about the card and not just speculations. I have to admit that off the bat it seems like a bad idea to let one company monopolize students money. However, it may be a good way to lower financial aid administration costs. I'd like to know.

Lastly, Portland State's Office of Business Affairs, Dee Wendler should be fired for not passing on her intent to the Dean of Students regardless if it was or wasn't intentional.

Re: Pros and Cons 23.Oct.2004 02:04

Tony aspsu@pdx.edu

I've tried to find the pros to this program. I do see a few:
- PSU saves money on cutting paper checks
- PSU will no longer use SS# as your ID# (which just needs a software adjustment, not 25,000 MasterCards)
- PSU... hmm...

That's all I can think of after two months of investigation. The con's are too many and too severe to avoid.

- PSU is sending everyone's contact information to Higher One on Monday (Oct 25). Did you verify that your BanWeb entry is accurate by now? Better - cuz if the OneCard doesn't make it to your house, you will have to pay $20 to get a new one. You cannot pick up ID cards at PSU anymore. Did PSU reach out to educate students to do this? Nope.
- The fee structure is, hands down, the highest one in town. Using Higher One's own methodology, but using fees in several banks in Portland, Higher One is up to 94% higher than local banks.
- The paper checks are mail only. PSU will no longer cut checks (except for emergencies).
- The paper checks are out of state. Today, they are Oregon state-certified. Now, they are Texas, which has a hold at many banks.
- Want to use Direct Deposit? Get your printer ready. You will have to find the request form, which is difficult to do on the HigherOne website, print it out, fill it out, mail it in, and then wait a week or two. Has PSU educated you on how to do this yet? Nope. Do they plan on it? Nope.
- Higher One preaches choice: But you have no choice. If you want your financial aid, hell, if you want to use the library, you must be a customer of Higher One on some level.
- Make no mistake: It is actually a challenge to not activate the debit features, or OneAccount, and not provide your social security number when activating the card on their website. Check out Friday's Vanguard. Even Dee Wendler admits it. If you successfully locate the small, difficult to see, default checkbox to activate the account and uncheck it, you will be prompted by at least 4 more small, difficult to see default checkboxes or attempts to get you to change your mind. This applies to everyone - regardless of financial aid - and takes up to 20 minutes to complete.
- Have a support issue? The nearest Higher One office is Connecticut. No tellers to go to, to branches to visit. All you get is phone support, business hours, eastern standard time.
- Want to build a relationship with a bank? Want to use this relationship for future needs, such as investments/mortgages/auto/personal loans? That's what many of us do. Higher One doesn't offer anything else but their high fee, low support, low feature checking account.
- Want to make a deposit? The 3 HigherOne ATMs on the West Coast, all at PSU, do not have this functionality. You will have to mail it to Higher One.
- Want to buy something? Every time you buy something using your PIN number, you will be charged $0.50 cents.
- Every ID is a MasterCard. Activated or not, this is in your pocket. Several services on campus require you to temporarily turn in your ID (checkouts, the gym, etc).
- Are you one of "those people"? That was what the Chairman of Higher One referred to Spanish speakers as at the PSU forums last week. International students, and ESL students, beware: English only, because Higher One "doesn't see the need" to support "those" students. I guess the several ESL and International student services on campus will have to take up educating students on their new forced financial service.
- Campus Safety: Did you know that Campus Safety never was asked to do a risk assessment of introducing at least 25,000 MasterCards on campus? PSU has a high theft rate. What impact will this have on our Campus Safety team, who is down to one officer at some times? Administrators never have, and still refuse, to explore these simple questions.

I could go on and on, but it's late and the screen is getting blurry :) I encourage you to visit the ASPSU office to sign the Boycott, learn more about how to avoid the OneAccount (and not let HigherOne profit from student financial aid), and volunteer in the campaign (which needs hundreds of volunteers).


Yes! Fight! 23.Oct.2004 15:47

Den Mark, Vancouver

As a PSU graduate (MS'78), i eagerly anticipate fierce resistance by PSU students & faculty. PSU administration sucks. I bet wendler & bernstine get THEIR (large) checks in precisely the form they prefer, on time!

A "university" NOT involving students in such a change: outrageous! Everyone who favored the decision to go ahead without student input should be dismissed. Of course, were they to be fired, they'd have the now-legendary "golden parachute". You can bet that these isolated incompetent plutocrats take VERY good care of themselves.

Attention Alumni Office: i had been considering writing PSU into my will, with a quarter million or more. Forget that now!

the new card isn't very secure 24.Oct.2004 01:41


"how does it compare with today's regular id card in regards to security?"

Today's regular id card can't get into your bank account.

Hardly anybody steals student id cards.

suck up and use it ya sheep 25.Oct.2004 08:57


Give up. Either transfer to another school or realize that you have no power, no influence, and no meaning other that to enrich Higher Powers. You may thank Presidnet Bernstein for setting the climate from the first day that bumbling corporate boob stepped foot in the state with his promises to adhere to business interests, business partnerships, business blah blah fucking blah. Not a word about academics, or what is left of a true liberal arts education, in those first days. Just serve the interests of power. Now get back to your fucking business classes and learn how to make the economy stronger through outsourcing and commercialization of every possible human concept. Or, trip up a business major accidentally as they head down a steep stairwell. Please.

SPAM 26.Oct.2004 11:57


why ANYONE would attend ANY state run BRAINWASHING institution has always
been a puzzle to me. So nice for the bank: an endless advertisement for
them, you check out a book, you see their logo (SPAM). You identify yourself
as a student, you see their logo (SPAM).

Don't 'ya get it by now? It's about money, stupid. It ain't about YOU
or education,,,

Tracking Chip? 20.Dec.2004 14:49


Does anyone know if these cards include a tracking chip that can be used by the police to track people? Someone told me they heard that the card contains a chip that will set of a silent "alarm" in certain stores if an "alert" is sent out to find a particular chip. For example, if the card is stolen, they can turn the tracking device on. I did the cursory search in Google, and did find an article on these cards, which are being introduced in campuses all over the nation. One article, from the "College Press Service," said that at U Michigan, the card "can be used to track students' movements across campus. UM school officials hasten to add that the tracking system is only used in emergency cases or at the request of police."

Anyone hear anything about this? Of course, PSU hasn't made mention of this tracking chip, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist!

PSU ONE F'd Me up 29.Sep.2005 23:05

Luke redigierensiefilm@gmail.com

My federal funding got sent to my psu one card. This morning i used my psu one card for sedesko (food company in ondine) and it took money out of my college money and not my food money. I just got an email from my dad saying Your college money was sent to your psu one card on accident fix it quick so we can pay the college bill. So I am totaly f'd right now.

PSU can go to hell for teaming up with some crazzy ass debit card!