Not long ago, I wrote a post about BlackboardPay, a card-based solution that can enhance the efficiency and ease of financial services at professional and career colleges in a way that represents students’ interests. You may have also heard, however, that there has been controversy surrounding another card-based solution in the news lately.  Below is a brief explanation that should help dispel misconceptions about this situation as well as provide insight into what an institution should look for when searching for a financial aid disbursement partner.

Financial Aid Disbursement Solutions

Currently, several companies’ financial aid disbursement solutions are built upon a model of charging fees on students’ bank cards and checking accounts designated to receive financial aid credit balances or refunds. This model has generated much controversy in recent months, as this approach, in addition to putting institutions at risk for not meeting federal disbursement regulations, is not designed to maximize the educational benefit of students’ financial aid. For a student on a tight budget, excessive fees add up and can significantly impact their higher education experience. Below, we offer 3 principles to keep in mind when selecting a partner to distribute financial aid:

  1. Standards that Institutions should Seek in Financial Aid Disbursement Solutions “Traditional” fee-based banking models were never designed with the unique needs of students in mind, especially those receiving financial aid, and should be significantly modified.
  2. Serving the best interest of students and taking out costs for institutions are not, and should not, be mutually exclusive. Programs should offer tangible administrative relief and cost savings while still protecting students from fees and penalities.
  3. The solution must enhance the institution’s ability to effectively manage their Title IV programs, as well as allow the institution to validate that those programs have a positive impact on students.

Not all Card-Based Solutions Are Alike

Fortunately, there is a card-based solution on the market that not only works to maximize the staff and resources of institution financial aid offices while ensuring complete regulatory compliance, but also minimizes fees for students.  Blackboard develops its financial services solutions like BlackboardPay meticulously to ensure compliance with federal regulations regarding student financial services.  Plus, BlackboardPay helps students avoid fees by allowing students to cash financial aid checks for free at hundreds of locations, including Walmart. BlackboardPay cards can also be used without PIN debit fees anywhere Discover cards are accepted and, since BlackboardPay is a prepaid account, credit exposure and overdraft fees are eliminated.

What’s more, Blackboard is always finding new ways to help its clients – whether they are in the for-profit sector or otherwise – stay compliant with federal regulations..  This extends beyond the financial realm as we strive to develop new ways in which schools can collect better data that allows them to measure student learning outcomes and success that also have federal regulatory implications.

Have Questions?

If you have any further questions about the ways Blackboard helps our clients stay compliant and mitigate regulatory risks while putting student interests first, don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts in the comments below or to contact us here – email: ProEdInfo@blackboard.com. We also hope to have more posts on this topic of compliance and regulations coming soon, so stay tuned!

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