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Added convenience in the cards for RIC students

Rhode Island College students will no longer have to wait in line, worry about losing their refund check, or drive to the bank to make a deposit. Effective immediately, all refund money due to overpaying the college and excess financial aid will be electronically deposited and immediately available on the new RIC Funds Card.
RIC Funds Card
The new RIC Funds Card.
RIC partnered with HigherOne, a financial services company that focuses on providing higher education students a faster and more convenient way to receive refund checks, to initiate the card.

The RIC Funds Card is considerably “greener,” said Paul Forte, assistant vice president for finance and controller. The college will save time, money and paper because it will eliminate the, “stuffing, sorting, preparing and mailing of checks,” he said. He estimates the college will save $10,000 annually by using the HigherOne program.

The RIC Funds Card with HigherOne is a debit MasterCard linked to an optional free checking account that is FDIC-insured with no minimum balance and no monthly fees, called the OneAccount. If
Paul Forte
Paul Forte, assistant vice president for finance and controller.
students choose not to open the OneAccount, refunds will be sent via ACH (automated clearing house) electronically to the students’ personal bank account. The debit card can be used at all locations that accept MasterCard.

In the nine years since HigherOne started, there has been a very high ratio of students who establish a checking account. “More than 50 percent,” Forte said.

“We encourage students to open the account,” he said. Using the card is free, as long as students follow the guidelines, as with any checking account. Although it is not a credit card, students are encouraged to “swipe and sign” instead of using a pin number, to avoid a fee. For more information on fees and guidelines, visit www.ricfundscard.com.


In addition to the new RIC Funds Card, the Campus Card has been redesigned. Though it looks new, it will continue to serve as an identification card for the college and Recreation Center, an entrance key for campus residence halls and other secure locations, the Adams Library card, and meal card that holds meal plan points for Donovan Dining Center, the Café and Convenience Store. The Campus Card can also be used to make photocopies or purchase items at the bookstore with the Campus Points account.

Incoming freshmen will be the first to obtain the new Campus Card. Although the old cards will still work, all RIC students are welcome to trade in their old ID card for a new one at no charge. Students receiving new cards will be required to retake their picture.

Jennifer Twining, RIC graphic communications specialist and designer of the RIC Funds Card and Campus Card, said she chose the image of Adams Library for both cards because it is an “iconic image that projects strength” and features peak foliage.

A HigherOne ATM machine is being installed in the Student Union for cardholders to withdraw cash, penalty free. To deposit money into the account, students can transfer funds from a third-party bank account or mail checks directly to HigherOne. Parents can also put aside funds and send money to their student’s OneAccount.

The OneAccount can also be used to pay bills online. Statements can be viewed online in real time, as the account is updated 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Students can also have text message updates sent to their mobile phones whenever the account balance changes.

For further convenience, RIC is investigating the potential of merging the recently redesigned Campus Card with the financial RIC Funds Card in the future (see sidebar). “Eventually we would like to phase into more utilization with the card,” Forte said.

He said that student payroll could eventually be directly deposited onto the RIC Funds Card.

Once a student graduates, it is not necessary to close the checking account, but if a student chooses to, there is no cancellation fee.

Forte explained the new RIC Funds Card program with HigherOne is all part of keeping RIC innovative, comparing it to past technological updates. “When we switched from telephone registration to RIConnect, we all thought it was going to be a big deal. We did not receive one complaint,” he said. Forte said he thinks students understand that old technologies will be replaced.

The RIC Funds Cards will be delivered to the permanent addresses of degree-seeking students in August. Upon receipt of the card, students can immediately activate their checking account online and begin using the services.