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Cougars & Mustangs 

No, no, you're not doing it right. It's money you're supposed to be throwing at me, not rocks. Why do you all groan as I carol? 'Tis the season, after all. At least, every store in America would have you believe it is, and as good, upstanding capitalists, aren't the businesses we patronize the voices of our nation? Another groan from you all. Election week was last week, you say—quit it with the political crap. Well, a merry humbug to you, too.

It may not be Christmas quite yet, but for college students it can feel that way once the financial aid checks come in. And for Cuesta, the way those checks are handled is about to change; Cuesta is taking a leap into the 24th-and-one-half-century. In spring of 2013, Cuesta begins its partnership with Higher One, a financial aid management company. Together, they will provide eligible students with the first-ever My Cuesta Card, should those students choose it. The My Cuesta Card, a debit card linked to a student's financial aid refunds, aims to be a more convenient way for students to handle their costs of living, learning, and more. Higher One's assistance with Cuesta's Financial Aid program in this regard will hopefully also free up more time for individual Financial Aid staff to help students in more ways, such as presumably one-on-one. In addition, students may be served directly by Higher One's OneRewards cash back program for their My Cuesta Cards.

However, as this transition is made, students might be wise to read the fine print and check the process before signing on. This is not to say that Higher One is a bad company or that this is a poor method for student fund management; however, any Cuesta collegiates holding interest in the program should be aware of certain services fees and management processes that could prove hassling if ignored. For example, when students use their card to make purchases in-store, they will slowly chip away their funds if they don't remember the proper way to check-out. A 50-cent fee will be charged for every transaction in which a student chooses “debit” and enters a Personal Identification Number (PIN) rather then selecting “credit” and signing their receipt. Students are allowed to withdraw from their account at an ATM; however, unless it is an approved Higher One ATM, a domestic charge of $2.50 or international charge of $5 will kick in, regardless of whether the student actually chooses to withdraw anything. A monthly charge of up to $10 will be deducted if a student's account is inactive for six months. There are many other possible fees as well, though one or two of the previously mentioned fees are somewhat alleviated if a student chooses to “upgrade” his or her account.

Now, don't get this reporter wrong. Higher One is not a scam, and it legitimately wants to make things easier for students. As long as students are aware of how to use their card and how not to use it, there shouldn't be any problem. However, students can be a notoriously forgetful bunch, and not handling this service properly will not be doing them any favors at all. It's ultimately up to an individual student to decide whether he or she would like to use the Higher One My Cuesta Card, and if push comes to shove and that student decides he or she doesn't want to opt for the program, he or she doesn't have to. I'd just recommend that whatever decision a student makes is made informed, so that Cuesta—and by extension its new partner, Higher One—can ultimately serve the student rather than make things more difficult for him/her.

Intern Chris White-Sanborn hopes you get into the holiday spirit a little early by perusing the stories in this year's Holiday Guide—including his. Berate him for this shameless plug—and also send your collegiate news—to

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