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Congressman Asks Higher One for Information on Student Debit-Card Fees

U.S. Rep. George Miller, the California lawmaker who is the top Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, on Tuesday sent a letter to Higher One Holdings Inc., asking the company to provide information about students’ ability to use ATMs the company maintains free of charge.

Mr. Miller wrote that he is “deeply concerned” that students who use Higher One debit cards to access their financial-aid money will not be able to do so without incurring the company’s fees, which have previously come under scrutiny.

Mr. Miller wrote that the company had a limited supply of fee-free ATMs on California campuses, which he said “raises important questions about the adequacy of fee-free access to student aid,” particularly on large campuses or for nontraditional students. He asked the company to review a list of ATMs it maintains on campuses in California, to provide details about ATMs it maintains on campuses across the country, and to describe its policies to refund fees charged to students when the machines fail or are not accessible.

Last year the company agreed to repay $11-million to 60,000 students who had been overcharged for their debit cards, as part of an agreement with federal regulators.

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