Higher One, a technology and payment services company focused on higher education, today announces expanded checking account options available for college students. Previously only offered to current customers, Higher One now offers new customers immediate access to three checking account options tailored to suit the differing personal banking behavior of students.

These new checking accounts offer distinctly different features than the basic OneAccount, such as the option of no PIN fees, a specified number of foreign ATM fee reimbursements, and access to uncomplicated online budgeting tools that help students keep track of their spending and set budgeting goals.

“We are continually listening to students to find out what they prefer and don’t prefer about the services that we offer. The additional checking account options that we are announcing were very popular with current customers and we are making them available to new customers in a direct response to the needs that have been expressed to us,” said Miles Lasater, co-founder and COO of Higher One.“

“These checking accounts are all FDIC-insured, with no minimum balance requirement, offered through our banking service provider. The OneAccount suite of checking accounts is unique in that students choosing to open an account need not undergo a credit check to qualify. Most importantly, the checking accounts are linked to a Debit MasterCard® and are not linked to a prepaid debit card or a credit card,” Lasater added.

“As students, we began working with other students over a decade ago with the guiding principles of transparency and providing a straightforward banking experience. Today, students are not conventional—in fact the average age of our customer is approximately 27. In response to their varied ages and backgrounds, we expanded our options so consumers can have more freedom to exercise low or no-cost checking, based on their individual banking patterns,” Lasater concluded.

The OneAccount is offered as a choice for students as a part of Higher One’s proprietary OneDisburse® Refund Management® funds disbursement service that handles financial aid disbursements to students at more than 500 college and university campuses across the U.S. Higher One assists colleges and universities comply with the Department of Education’s regulations made in 2008 regarding debit cards and the disbursement of Title IV funds.

As part of Higher One’s OneDisburse Refund Management service, students are not charged to receive their refunds. Higher One is also required under federal law to submit to examination by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the federal regulating bodies of its bank partners.

A recent analysis was conducted by Bretton Woods, evaluating the costs of maintaining, accessing and using financial aid refunds via various banking and other options available to students, including products from national banks, regional banks, reloadable prepaid cards, and paper check cashing services.

“The majority of available accounts, by market share, are not free,” says Michael Flores, CEO of Bretton Woods. “Higher One’s core OneAccount product demonstrates it is on the low end of the cost scale when compared to bank and prepaid card offerings. Higher One is an option (not mandated) for those students who either like the features of the account or may not qualify for a traditional bank account. The OneAccount customer’s average age is in the late twenties and they have had some financial experience.”

OneAccount features such as peer-to-peer transfers and mobile check deposits were built around the actual mobile and online usage patterns of students—not based on an outdated brick and mortar concept of banking. Higher One actively utilizes its online model to educate consumers on the fee schedule for all three accounts, which are one click away on the website, along with instructional videos on how to avoid these fees and use the accounts for free.

James Garcia, student at East Los Angeles College has been a OneAccount holder for more than two years. “What I like most about my account is that I can get access to my funds immediately. I found the website to be really helpful and straightforward—I understand how my account works. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever had to pay a fee.”

Higher One is committed to increasing financial literacy among students and has dedicated resources to this effort. These include its Financial Intelligence product offering which is an online financial literacy course for schools, the Financial Literacy Counts grant program which provides funding for schools to run money management classes, and the One Scholarship for student tuition. For more information visit the student blog on financial literacy at oneforyourmoney.com.

About Higher One

Higher One Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: ONE) is a leading company focused on helping college business offices manage operations and providing enhanced service to students. Through a full array of services from refunds, payments, electronic billing, payment plans and more, Higher One works closely with colleges and universities to ensure students receive Financial Aid refunds quickly, can pay tuition and bills online, make on-campus and community purchases and learn the basics of financial management.

Higher One provides its services to approximately 6.0 million students at distinguished public and private higher education institutions nationwide. More information about Higher One can be found at HigherOne.com.

Copyright Business Wire 2010