MERCED — Merced College is adopting a system that will make it easier for students to receive financial aid disbursements.
Students no longer will have to wait in the long line that usually forms outside the student fees office on the day financial aid checks are made available.
"The student fees office is on the second floor of the Lesher Building," said Joanne Schultz, who is the vice president of administrative services at Merced College. "I've seen the line wind down the stairs and around the building."
Merced College has partnered with Higher One to provide students with new electronic options for financial aid disbursement.
Students can have their funds transferred to their own bank account.
Students can open a Higher One checking account.
Students can have their financial aid check sent via mail.
Students who choose to open the Higher One checking account don't have to pay a monthly fee, and there is no minimum balance. They will be issued a Merced Blue Card, a debit MasterCard that can be used for no charge on campus and is valid at any location where MasterCard is accepted.
"Many students who receive financial aid don't have bank accounts," Schultz said. "When you don't have a banking account, getting a check and cashing it isn't easy. Higher One provides these students with a bank account and a debit card."
Schultz estimates that as many as 5,000 students receive federal aid at Merced College.
The new system will be in place for the fall semester, which begins Aug. 12.
In late July, students will receive a Merced Blue Card in the mail with instructions on how to set up their personal accounts.
Merced College has sent emails to inform students that it's critical for those who are receiving financial aid to update their mailing addresses so they will receive information on the changes.
"The new system is going to save time, it's going to save students from waiting in line for their checks and it's going to give students access to their funds quicker," Schultz said. "We're trying to make things easier for the students. We feel it's going to be a real benefit."