A new method of financial aid disbursement is being proposed by Student Financial Services. If implemented, this change will hand over financial aid disbursements from the current in-house method, where refunds are disbursed directly by Student Financial Services, to a private banking service called BankMobile, a division of Customers Bank.
Financial aid disbursement can be a significant part of a student’s experience at CSU Bakersfield. Chad Morris, director of Financial Aid, commented during an interview that roughly 90% of CSUB students receive some form of aid.
These CSUB students are familiar with the current system, which offers two options for disbursement: direct depositing into a personal checking account, or receiving a paper check by mail.
Over time, those proposing the new disbursement method considered and examined the issues with the existing system.
An issue of note is the lack of options for students who are unable to open a checking account. Reasons for this can range from “burned bridges” with banks (chronic overdrafts, defaulted loans) to a lack of identifying documents, such as a Social Security number, required to work with a reputable bank.
The lack of a checking account leaves these students with only the option to receive a check, which can be stolen or lost in the mail.
Another issue of concern is the amount of time it takes to refund aid to students. The current system takes a minimum of two days after financial aid has processed the payment of tuition and fees to process direct deposits or send out checks.
Horacio Garcia, a business major, has had issues with the amount of time it takes to receive his refunds under the current system.
“It takes too long. I didn’t receive my financial aid until after the semester had already started,” Garcia said.
To combat these issues, Associate Controller of Student Financial Services Julie Oberlies was the first to propose contracting out refund processing to BankMobile’s disbursement services.
BankMobile has a reputation with other colleges and is known for its willingness to help all types of students.
The service may already be familiar to some of CSUB’s transfer students, as it is used at local community colleges, including Taft College, Bakersfield College, and Antelope Valley College.
BankMobile offers solutions to the issues that plague the current system. With it, students who are unable to open a traditional checking account would be offered the option to get one through BankMobile and Customers Bank. The BankMobile checking account carries a monthly maintenance fee of $2.99, which can be waived with a monthly deposit into the account not related to financial aid. Students may also continue to have their aid deposited into their personal checking account, or if they still prefer, they can ask to be mailed a paper check.
Additionally, BankMobile promises to be a faster option for receiving funds.
“BankMobile is able to deposit funds either same day or next day,” Oberlies said.
BankMobile offers additional resources that could significantly improve students’ experience, such as 24-hour customer service, a strong messaging system to keep students informed of their refund process, and additional financial literacy tools.
“We’re always looking for more efficient ways to do business,” said Morris.
The move to BankMobile is currently underway. It was approved by ASI during their meeting on Feb. 7 and is awaiting approval from other related departments on campus. Should the changeover be fully approved, Oberlies hopes to see the service implemented by summer 2020. Students who would like to know more about BankMobile’s services before then can visit BankMobileDisbursements.com.