Trial starts Monday for lawsuit against UM alleging privacy violations, failure to protect against excessive fees

A trial in a class action lawsuit challenging how the University of Montana disbursed financial aid and tuition overpayments to students will begin on Jan. 8.

The suit looks at UM’s agreement with third-party financial technology company Higher One, with which it entered into a contract in 2010 to handle the student transactions. The case will be heard by Shane Vannatta in the Fourth Judicial District Court in Missoula County.

Whereas UM had previously processed refunds and issued checks directly to students, it outsourced this task to Higher One for five years between 2010 and 2015. Higher One either created accounts for students and gave them debit cards to withdraw their payments, disbursed the funds to a separate bank account or mailed checks directly to students.

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Former students say they were charged excessive fees when using the cards, such as a 50-cent transaction fee on all purchases. They also assert that their alma mater gave students’ personal information to Higher One without consent, and that UM saved money by doing so.

“UM firmly believes that it did nothing wrong in providing students with effective and efficient options to have their

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