The Shenanigans Start Early this Fall with Financial Aid

Over the last few days, students at California State University, Fresno, have received emails concerning financial aid, email access, notifications for orientation dates and schedules, etc. I am not quite sure how to take the most recent email from the Student Financial Services Department though. Here it is, in full–and no, the HTML tags are not a formatting error in this blog post; this is, in fact, how the email was parsed in my version of Microsoft Outlook 2010 and Firefox through the portal:

Subject: Urgent Message Regarding Fresno State Financial Aid and Student Refunds!!!

Fresno State Students,
<P>Beginning in August, Fresno State will be changing to a new, faster, and more convenient method for you to receive financial aid, scholarship awards, and other student refunds – the Fresno State Choice Card. This method replaces the previous options of bulldog direct deposit or receiving a check from Fresno State.  In the coming weeks, all Fresno State students will receive a new Fresno State Choice Card in the mail.  To ensure that delivery of your card is not delayed, take a moment to visit your MyFresnoState portal and confirm your mailing address.</P>


<P>Your new Fresno State Choice Card is designed to provide you with increased choices, including:</P>

<DD>&bull;         Same day deposit to a Higher One&reg; OneAccount, an FDIC Insured, no monthly fee, no minimum balance checking account. </DD>

<DD>&bull;         The option to have your funds transferred to another bank account.</DD>

<DD>&bull;         Requesting a check to be mailed to you from Higher One&reg;.</DD>


<P>Does Fresno State have your current mailing address?  Please take a moment to visit your MyFresnoState portal and confirm or update your mailing address today. Your new Fresno State Choice Card will be mailed to your current mailing address on file with Fresno State. Therefore, it is critical that you verify your mailing address as soon as possible.</P>

<P>Please activate your card as soon as you receive it.

<B>Do not throw this away!!!</B> Remember, even if you are not currently expecting a check from Fresno State, we may have one for you in the future. You can visit <a href=”” target=”_blank”></a> and/or click on this link <a href=”” target=”_blank”></a> to learn more about all the great benefits that accompany your new Fresno State Choice Card!</P>


<p><img src=”” width=”422″ height=”259″ style=”margin:auto;display:block;”></p>

Whew. Nothing says urgent quite like a sentence with three exclamation points and a bunch of [invalid] HTML tags to read through, and nothing makes me feel more like a part of Corporate America than to be able to add another plastic card to my collection. I’m left feeling fuzzy and warm inside knowing that the powers that be have made it “more convenient” for me to manage these funds. According to the steps above, all I have to do is confirm my mailing address so that when they mail the card to me, I actually receive it. Then I have to find a safe place for it so as not to lose it (not to mention having yet another liability for potential identity theft). Then once [if] I receive funds, I get to transfer those funds to my regular banking account myself by way of an “optional” request. As the email states, these are all ways in which I have been provided “increased choices,” but let me be the first to say that these are “choices” I never even wanted. Compared to a traditional direct deposit, how is this faster and more convenient for me? This email, nor the thinking behind it, did not come from California State University, Fresno. It came from Fresno State. The only thing it’s missing is the paw-print logo.

Edit: This is just my knee-jerk reaction to a poorly written (and formatted) email. I have yet to do any research to see if this program will help save the CSU system any money, but common sense suggests that there is a pretty significant cost involved with having all of those cards made. With tens of thousands of students in the system, I imagine postage will not be cheap, either. I may write updates as more information is found/revealed.

Update 11:30AM July 09, 2012: Someone must be reading my blog! The email was sent out again on Monday morning. This time, the email was changed so that all of the HTML markup could be parsed. Unfortunately, the message itself was not changed, and we can all expect to receive our “Fresno State Credit Card.”