Financial Aid Office to issue ‘Cash Cards’

By Cody Casares, Photo Editor

Financial aid disbursements will be easier for students starting this summer.

The college has partnered with Blackboard, an educational service program, to streamline the financial aid services for students. 

“The service that we are going through with Blackboard is called Blackboard Pay. We are very excited to partner with Blackboard and offer these options for students,” Financial Aid Supervisor Monica Rodriguez said.

Blackboard Pay is a disbursement solution program which provides options for students on how they receive their financial aid funds.

The program works through either a reloadable Money Network Service prepaid account, direct deposit into an existing bank account or, the current method, of a paper check, Rodriguez said. 

“The Money Network account, which is our College Cash Card, gives students access to their funds the same day that the district send the refunds to the Money Network,” she said. “This usually takes no more than 15 minutes.”

Sociology major Claudia Rivera said she looks forward to nearly instantaneous transfer of funds when she receives her financial aid next semester. 

“I wait about a week with the paper checks. The new system is very convenient,” she said.

The paper check option takes about seven to 10 business days for the check to arrive by mail.

The direct deposit takes three to five banking days to be processed depending on each student’s bank, Rodriguez said.

“We left the paper check as an option for students who prefer paper checks, but we do want to encourage all students to go with one of the electronic options, which are much quicker.”

The Money Network Service allows students to receive, access and manage their student aid funds with the prepaid account.

Each student is assigned an individual Money Network account, similar to a personal bank that includes the Money Network enabled Master Card that can be used everywhere that debit Master Card is accepted, Rodriguez said.

“It’s important to remember that a prepaid account is not a credit card or a bank account. There’s no overdraft fees or minimum balance requirements. It’s strictly a prepaid card,” she said.

Computer information systems major Francis Sanson said, “It’s a big change. As we go forward with this it will affect the whole campus.”

An additional benefit to selecting the Money Network account option is the ability to access the free mobile app.

Students using the app will have the ability to manage accounts, check balances, see transaction history and set up automatic mobile notifications, she said.

The app also provides the locations of participating free ATM and check cashing locations, Rodriguez said.

“We have an existing ATM on campus, that is not part of the All Point network. I tried going to the ATM at Walgreens and 7/11 (near the college) and their ATM is part of the network. We are trying to have a discussion with the existing bank on campus to change that,” district Director of Financial Aid Wilbert Lleses said.

“Students can also request Money Network checks that can be self issued and cashed for free at Wal-Mart,” she said.

The website where students can go to set up their choice is not yet ready but will be available soon, Rodriguez said.

“We will be contacting students directly via email to enroll once we’re actually ready for the website to go live,” she said. “If no selection is made, the default option is the paper check by mail.”

The Money Network  College Cash Card option has access to a Piggy Bank Account, which allows students to automatically transfer money into an existing savings account, Rodriguez said.

“Students who want to start practicing saving their money will have the option to do that as well either through the online account or the mobile app,” she said.

Money Network checks are also provided  with the College Cash Card to ensure that students have the ability to utilize all of their  disbursement funds in case they end up with a low balance, Rodriguez said.