Higher One's Future Cloudy as Fees Investigated, Stock Price Drops, Executives Depart
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Co-founder Sean Glass Speaks
Lemoine declined to make Lasater or Volchek available for interviews. Glass, who left the company in early 2008 but is still a small stockholder, strongly defended Higher One in several emails.
“Criticisms of Higher One have centered around the fact that the company charges fees to its student checking account customers,” Glass wrote. “This is somewhat baffling as I have yet to find a checking account that doesn’t have either per service fees or a monthly account fee.”
Glass accused “politicians” “and “administrators in certain agencies” of making questionable accusations against Higher One for their own gain. Any company with 2 million customers will have complaints, he said. “It’s absurd because without Higher One, schools would spend more money, students would get slower access to funds and students would spend more on banking and debit card services,” he said.
Glass also urged Connecticut Magazine to “dig into the background, connections and intentions” of the author of the U.S. PIRG report.
Christine Lindstrom, U.S. PIRG’s higher education program director, said that one of the report’s authors later went to work for U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Cal.), a Higher One critic. She added that U.S. PIRG investigated Higher One because of growing complaints—15 to 20 a year.
No Bulldog One Card
One place you won’t find Higher One is Yale. There is a Bulldog One card.
In spite of its longstanding support of Higher One, Yale has never hired the firm. University spokesman Tom Conroy did not respond when asked why.
One reason may be that not enough Yale students receive refunds. Higher One serves many two-year and community colleges whose students rely heavily on federal financial aid. Those schools charge less, so their students are therefore more likely to receive refunds, according to the GAO.
The criticisms against Higher One, meanwhile, have not dampened Yale’s enthusiasm for the company. Twice since taking office last fall, new President Peter Salovey or his representative have praised the company as a role model.
“Yale has no concerns about Higher One,” Conroy said in an email. “Yale is proud of its entrepreneurial graduates.”