The student-led fight against HigherOne services continues as PSU President Bernstine refuses to respond to community demands to terminate the contract with the company.
"HigherOne decreases the ease and speed of accessing financial aid via direct deposit and paper checks in order to promote their high-fee Texas-based checking account, the OneAccount," says student body President Christy Harper. Early estimates show that Portland State may pocket up to $2.8 million with the HigherOne contract, while students are left paying almost $5 million in fees.
After 400 people participated in a rally against HigherOne in November, President Bernstine decided that students may pay $20 to rely on PSU, not HigherOne, for their ID Card and direct deposit. This option must be requesed every year and is only available during the summer. "I am not impressed by Bernstine's continued disregard for students on this issue," says student body Vice-President Ryan Klute, "His opt-out option is more tricky to navigate than HigherOne's activation website."
Student leaders are satisfied with the Fall Term campaign. "Students, not the administration, carried the burden of communicating how their financial aid has changed," said ASPSU Communications Director Tony Rasmussen, "Our boycott helped assure that most students knew the truth about the new cards." Students also attribute the 23% activation rate of the OneAccount, far below the usual HigherOne estimate of 75%, to their campaign and to the prevention of HigherOne solicitation materials on campus.
Currently, students are building legislative support for Senate Bill 643, which would effectively prevent the HigherOne business model on campus by securing student records. The bill, driven by Federal Affairs Director Amanda Barron, requires that students consent in writing before their personal information is released to HigherOne. Thousands of students are needed to write letters and call legislators in the coming weeks.