PSU ‘very pleased’ with ID activation

PSU has rolled out its new ID program, and so far a little more than half of the student body has activated the cards.

Portland State students began receiving their new ID cards, which can also function as debit cards, in November as part of PSU’s contract with Higher One. The company has taken over management of the university’s financial aid disbursement process.

In addition to paper check and electronic deposit disbursement options, the company offers checking accounts called "OneAccounts" that students can deposit their aid money into, using their ID card as their bankcard.

The Finance and Administration office is "very pleased with the activation rates," according to Dee Wendler, director of business affairs.

Of students who have received their cards, 51 percent have activated them, a rate that is estimated to be 20 percent higher than the initial activation rates of other universities that ave implemented the Higher One program.

Of the12,720 students who have activated their cards, 6, 250 have received financial aid. Of the students who have received aid for winter term, 22 percent have chosen to receive their money via the OneAccount. Thirty-two percent chose a paper check and 46 percent opted to have the money deposited directly into already existing bank accounts.

Wender said that the financial aid disbursement has gone smoothly this term. "Students received their aid money sooner than ever before," she said.

Problems have arisen, however. The new Higher One ATM in Neuberger Hall ran out of money Wednesday, and some students were unable to withdrawal financial aid money from their Higher One accounts.

Lines to receive paper checks were long. Students without bank accounts found it difficult to find a bank that would cash their now out-of-state paper checks.

ASPSU Vice President Ryan Klute attributes the high activation rates to the boycott efforts of several student groups.

Student government has vowed to remain active in their boycott of Higher One. The boycott was implemented last October by student government and was the result of several concerns about the new ID program. One was that Portland State struck the deal with Higher One without the input of student government, students or faculty.

A special Higher One planning meeting will be held today to discuss whether or not they will accept Bernstine’s proposal for a fourth student ID card option.

At a meeting with student government Dec. 2, Bernstine proposed an option where students could choose to receive an ID card that was not associated with Higher One and would not have a MasterCard logo.

The cards, which would cost students $20, would have a magnetic strip and a photo of the Urban Plaza just like the Higher One cards, but would be produced at Portland State.

Student government has been gathering feedback from students about this fourth option, according to Klute. The biggest concern seems to be that students do not want to pay $20 to opt out of the program.

Student government’s largest concern is whether or not these new, unaffiliated IDs will be offered for the entirety of PSU’s five-year contract with Higher One, a piece of information that was not included in Bernstine’s written proposal.

"Overwhelmingly, people are not impressed with the fourth option," Klute said.