Talk about a holiday miracle!  The New York Times recently reported that two federal agencies are ordering Higher One, the largest provider of financial aid services on college campuses, to give refunds to students who used Higher One’s campus accounts and paid deceptive fees.  According to the Federal Reserve and the FDIC, Higher One didn’t inform students about some of the fees and features associated with their accounts.  The company also used school logos on their materials to make it look like their colleges endorsed the accounts.

The Federal Reserve is seeking $24 million worth of repayment to about 570,000 students, while the FDIC ordered Higher One and its partner bank, WEX Bank, to return $31 million to 900,000 consumers.

Over the past few years, we’ve told you about how schools have increasingly entered into arrangements with financial institutions to disburse financial aid dollars, as well as market banking and prepaid accounts to students.  These school-bank partnerships have helped schools cut costs, but also expose students to aggressive marketing tactics, high or unusual fees, and restricted choices for managing their money.  Our Consumer Reports investigation in 2014 found that some of these accounts came with fees that added up quickly if you used them frequently, and also found that important information about the accounts was often difficult to find.

All that is about to change starting this year. New Department of Education rules, which we helped negotiate, will provide a number of important protections to students banking on campus:

2016 is shaping up to be a better school year already.