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UND students eligible for Pride Card refund

GRAND FORKS — Some University of North Dakota students have the opportunity to collect on a $15 million settlement with the bank card company used by the university.

The company Higher One provides students with a card that holds extra money from financial aid and loans. Known on the Grand Forks campus as the Pride Card, it is supposed to act like a debit card, but the catch is that the company charges $20 for replacement cards and 50 cents per transaction when the card is used as debit rather than credit, among other fees.

Due to inaccurate marketing practices and nondisclosure of fees, the company reached a settlement that UND students can collect on if they were ever charged any account fees and activated an account between July 1, 2006, and Aug. 2, 2012.

UND has used Higher One since 2008, and spokesman Peter Johnson said the university plans to continue doing so because it’s an optional service for students to sign up for and allows students to get their refunds faster.

“When students come in, we encourage them to use their existing bank accounts,” he said.

But while UND’s website clearly states that having refunds directly deposited into an existing bank account is free, it is followed with “If you select your refund preference as the OneAccount with Higher One (Easy Refund), there are generally no fees associated with the account. The OneAccount is designed to be free.”

That language and marketing led to the Higher One settlement in the first place, though the company still has not admitted any fault, according to an online explanation of the settlement.

Higher One is no stranger to controversy and has been accused of not telling investors the company’s marketing and disclosure practices violated the Federal Trade Commission Act. The Federal Reserve Board also levied a $3.5 million penalty against Cole Taylor Bank of Chicago for its deceptive practices while working with Higher One.

To submit a claim or learn more about the settlement, visit oneaccountsettlement.com.

Anna Burleson

Anna Burleson is the higher education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald. She is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Dakota's Mass Communication program and is originally from Watertown, S.D. Contact her with story ideas or tips by phone, email or Twitter, all of which are listed below. Examples of her work can be accessed here.

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