Students have been receiving their financial aid sooner by using the eRefund service, which deposits money directly into their checking accounts.
Since its launch last January, eRefund has helped about 7,000 students receive their financial aid balance sooner, said University Controller Robert Barker.
“In the course of a semester we distribute about 15,000 refund checks,” Barker said. “ERefund is ideal mainly because of the convenience factor and risk reduction.”
Barker said the refunds are deposited in one to two business days as opposed to receiving the check via mail, which could take up to a week. Students are able to enroll online through SOLAR, the campus web portal.
Barker said students who receive their checks in the mail run the risk of having it lost in the mail. He added that Cash Services gets many calls from anxious students every semester.
Since its launch Barker said he has not heard of a single complaint in regards to the eRefund process.
“The only problems I can say we’ve had have been account misfires, which are due to inaccurate information being submitted,” Barker said. “We can’t emphasize enough that a student’s bank information must be current since we don’t have any access to that information.”
Barker said the direct deposit option is available for all students receiving checks, not only those receiving financial aid money.
Barker said according to Information Technology, student participation went from about 5,000 last semester to 7,000 for the upcoming Fall semester, making the new option a proven success.
Sophomore Andrew Salvatore, 19, undeclared major has received his refund checks through the mail for the past year.
“This semester will be my first semester using direct deposit,” Salvatore said. “I figure it’ll save me a trip to the bank and I won’t have to worry about the check getting lost in the mail.”
Senior Kristen Durham, 22, family and consumer sciences major, said she received grants her freshman year and wished the eRefund option was available then.
“I usually received my check within the first week of classes,” she said. “It’s not very convenient.”
Since refunds are distributed about a week before classes begin, Barker said the direct deposit allows students to receive their money quickly, with ample time to purchase textbooks, parking passes, and other school related materials.
He added that a looming concern in the rolling out of eRefund was the students’ lack of knowledge in the program. Many students complained they were not aware the option was available to them despite e-mails sent by administrators in the financial aid and cash services departments.
This semester eRefund advertised through e-mail, website promotion, portal alerts, and simple word of mouth proved successful with its impressive rise in student enrollment, Barker said.
He hopes student participation continues to grow each semester.
“Ideally we would like to see about 90 percent participation in eRefund,” Barker said.
He added that he is counting on the new wave of incoming freshman to take part in the university’s technological ventures.
He said the new generation has a “mindset based around electronics.”
Barker said he understands that there is still a select group of students that may not have checking accounts and like their money sent to them the old-fashioned way, which still need to be catered to.
Durham thinks the students opting for eRefund will outweigh those still wanting their checks sent via e-mail.
“Unless you don’t have a checking account, students will definitely prefer the faster and easier option for sure,” Durham added.