Heartland Commends New GAO Report on College Debit Cards That Reinforces Need for Greater Transparency
PITTSBURGH--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Heartland Campus Solutions ECSI, a division of Heartland Payment Systems and a leading provider of solutions for over 2,000 colleges and universities, commented today on the February 2014 U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) report: “COLLEGE DEBIT CARDS: Actions Needed to Address ATM Access, Student Choice, and Transparency.”
“We remain committed to providing transparent solutions that support the needs of students and higher education institutions.”
“We commend the GAO for investigating these industry issues and publishing this thoroughly-researched and unbiased report,” said Ron Farmer, Executive Director of Heartland Campus Solutions ECSI. “Many college administrators have been searching for a way to properly evaluate campus debit and prepaid card providers. Now they know what to look out for and can feel more confident that they are making the right decision for their schools and their students, even the nonbanked and underbanked.”
College debit and prepaid cards allow students to receive refunds from federal student aid and other payments on a card. According to the GAO Report, while college cards can be convenient for students and offer cost savings and efficiencies for schools, concerns exist when it comes to fees, ATM access and neutrality. Among other findings, the GAO reports that some college debit and prepaid card providers charge fees for debit card usage, make it difficult for students to transfer funds to their own bank account, and that some schools receive payments from card providers based on the number of card accounts opened, leading to a call for increased transparency.
“Our prepaid card fees are the lowest of any of the card providers, banks, credit unions and other financial institutions the GAO surveyed,” said Bill Norwood, Director of Product Architecture, Heartland Campus Solutions ECSI. “Also, unlike other providers, Heartland’s CHOICE process lets students easily choose to have their refund placed on a prepaid card, transferred to a bank account or sent to them by check. And our contracts with our campus customers are completely transparent, with no fees paid to them that could impact their neutrality.”
When seeking an existing government standard for federal benefits distributed by prepaid or electronic benefit cards, the GAO concluded that Labor’s Unemployment Insurance was the federal program most similar to college cards. The GAO noted that “while neither Labor nor Education negotiates contracts with card providers, both agencies impose requirements aimed at ensuring that agreements have protections for beneficiaries.” In an effort to ensure the highest standards, Heartland modeled its prepaid debit card program after these same federal benefits programs.
“Heartland’s founding principles are to offer fair, honest and fully-disclosed solutions, and our prepaid college card program adheres to these same values,” added Farmer. “We remain committed to providing transparent solutions that support the needs of students and higher education institutions.”
About Heartland Campus Solutions ECSI
Heartland Campus Solutions ECSI currently serves over 2,000 colleges and universities with comprehensive product solutions that work in-sync including loan servicing, payment processing, refund disbursements, tuition payment plans, campus cards, tax document services, delinquent account recovery, call center services, and other outsource services.
About Heartland Payment Systems
Heartland Payment Systems, Inc. (NYSE: HPY), the fifth largest payments processor in the United States, delivers credit/debit/prepaid card processing, mobile commerce, e-commerce, marketing solutions, security technology, payroll solutions, and related business solutions and services to more than 275,000 business and educational locations nationwide. A FORTUNE 1000 company, Heartland is the founding supporter of The Merchant Bill of Rights, a public advocacy initiative that educates merchants about fair credit and debit card processing practices. Heartland also established The Sales Professional Bill of Rights to advocate for the rights of sales professionals everywhere. More detailed information can be found at HeartlandPaymentSystems.com, HeartlandPaymentSystems.com/Careers, Heartlandpaymentsystems.com/Blog or follow the company on Twitter @HeartlandHPY and Facebook at facebook.com/HeartlandHPY
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