Frequently Asked Questions - HigherOne


HigherOne FAQ's

Saddleback College will no longer disburse financial aid checks to students. Instead, HigherOne (a financial services company) will issue a Saddleback Card to all students who are offered financial aid.

The card is sent to the address as entered on the FAFSA. The card is used to select your option for your financial aid disbursement from HigherOne.

How do I avoid fees?

The OneAccount is designed to offer faster refunds and increased money management choices to fit your budget and busy lifestyle - but that doesn't mean it has to cost a fortune to use. It's easy to steer clear of fees and use the account for free. Just follow these simple rules:

  • Give yourself a little credit!
    Just remember, the key word is "credit" not "debit" when using your Higher OneCard to make purchases at checkout. Simply "Swipe & Sign" when you make Debit MasterCard® purchases (i.e. swipe your card and sign the receipt) and you won't be charged a PIN Based transaction fee. Sound easy? That's because it is!
  • Knowing is half the battle!
    At least it is when it comes to paying your bills. When you set up automatic recurring Debit MasterCard® payments, you'll know when your bills are being paid and the amount coming out of your account. It's the smart way to avoid getting caught by surprise. You'll make life easier, avoid Insufficient Funds Fees and save money on checks and postage.
  • What's better than avoiding fees?
    How about cash back just for using your card! With OneRewards, Higher One's cash back rewards program, that's just what you'll get. And it's up to 50% cash back by simply choosing "credit" and making Swipe & Sign transactions with your card at merchants in the OneRewards network. Prefer to shop online? We've got that covered too. Click through exclusive links for your favorite online merchants by visiting
  • Not all ATMs have the same fees!
    Although you can use your Higher OneCard to get cash at any ATM, stick to Higher One ATMs to stay fee-free. Or, better yet, use free Online Bill Pay as an alternative to withdrawing large amounts of cash for rent or bills. It's safer, easier and more secure!
  • Check your statement online for peace-of-mind and go mobile!
    As with most bank accounts, there are some services offered by Higher One that do carry fees. It's always a good idea to familiarize yourself with these by reviewing our Fee Schedules.

For more information:

How do I activate my Saddleback Card?

Visit to activate your card and select your refund/disbursement preference. Get step-by-step help with setting up your refund preference by watching a demo. You have three options.

  1. OneAccount free checking account with a DEBIT CARD (1 day), or
  2. Transfer to an existing bank account (2-3 days),
  3. Issue a paper check and send disbursement by mail (5-7 business days)

Making a selection is easy, and your choice is confirmed to make certain there is no mistake.

The timing estimates are AFTER HigherOne receives Saddleback’s disbursement records.


Do I have to activate my Saddleback Card?

The card must be activated in order to select a refund/disbursement preference. HigherOne cannot disburse your financial aid if you do not activate the card and make a selection.

What is the OneAccount and do I have to open one?

The OneAccount is a free checking account service from HigherOne. Review the OneAccount information online at for more details. If you select the OneAccount option, your Saddleback Card will be used as a DEBIT CARD with the checking account.

You are not required to open a OneAccount bank account. You can choose to have your financial aid refund/disbursement deposited into your current bank account.

How long will it take to get my financial aid disbursement the first time I use my Saddleback Card?

The timing will vary depending upon the date you return your signed award notification and register for classes. The earliest time to receive your financial aid disbursement will be the first day of the quarter.

If you sign your award notification after the start of the quarter, it can take 5-7 days to receive your Saddleback Card in the mail. Once you activate your card and make a disbursement selection, the timing will vary as follows:

  • OneAccount free checking with Saddleback Debit Card –receive funding the same day HigherOne receives your disbursement information from Saddleback.
  • Transfer your disbursement to your own checking account (2-3 days).

Where can I use the Saddleback Card?

If you choose the OneAccount (free checking account), you can use the card anywhere a DEBIT MasterCard would be accepted. There are fees for PIN-based transactions (HigherOne Fee Schedules). To avoid fees, select the “credit” option which is called “swipe and sign”. Your card is still used as a debit card even though you selected the “credit” option. Your debit card is NOT a credit card since you must have money in the account to use it. In most cases you will be asked to sign a receipt if you use the swipe and sign option.

Are there any ATM fees?

There are no fees when you use the HigherOne ATM with your Saddleback Debit Card. There are three convenient locations:

  • Student Services Building
    (SSC) - 2nd Floor
  • Math/Science/Engineering
    Building (MSE) – Lobby
  • Saddleback Gymnasium
    (PE 200) – Foyer

Fees are charged if you use the School’s First Credit Union ATM located in the Student Center.
There are also fees for using another bank’s ATM (HigherOne Fee Schedules).

Does HigherOne charge fees for receiving my financial aid disbursement?

You are not charged for receiving your disbursement/refund, regardless of your method of disbursement. If you select the OneAccount (including your Saddleback Card), you will not be charged for standard banking services such a zero minimum balance, online bill pay, check writing, etc.

However, there are fees for other services such as wire transfers, PIN based transaction fees, etc. Read the HigherOne Fee Schedules carefully to learn about potential fees and how to avoid being charged.

Can I change my refund preference?

Yes, you can update your disbursement/refund preference at any time online at .  Select “Financial Refunds” then “Refund Preferences” from the main menu to update your selection.


How will I know when my disbursement/refund has been deposited to my OneAccount?

HigherOne notifies you by email and/or text message alert when your disbursement/refund has been processed by HigherOne into your OneAccount. You can also check your account balance online at

What if I do not receive my Saddleback Card in the mail?

You can track your card status online at using the “Where’s My Card” feature. You may also visit the Financial Aid Office for assistance in tracking your card.

How do I request a replacement card?

If you lose your Saddleback Card, you can request a replacement card from HigherOne. You will be charged a $20 replacement fee.