Published: Apr 21, 2010 5:02 AM EDT

VENICE, Fla. - A college student goes to sign up for classes and is not allowed  - not because he owes them money, but because the college owes him money.

Brian Abel has taken classes at State College of Florida in Venice since 1991. In the fall, he dropped a class and signed up for another. Because of a price difference, the college owed him $25. But when he went to register, “I was not able to log on. My account had been locked up more or less,” Abel said.

Why? He says because the college hadn't paid him his $25! SCF partners with Higher One, a financial services company. Students need the Higher One card to get refunds. While it appears to Higher One that he lost his card, Abel says he never got one. He says the only way to get the refund now is to pay a card replacement fee. “A $21 fee just to get $25 back is kind of ridiculous, almost unethical,” Abel said.

The college tells us that when a student is owed a refund, the card company makes several attempts to contact the student. If no refund is claimed after 7 months, the college starts contacting the student. And if all else fails they put a registration hold on the account until the issue is resolved.

SCF says the hold is mainly intended to get students’ attentions to fix any problems. They also say the rules and guidelines are clear when it comes to the cards. “I don’t think students should be required to have a savings account with a specific institution to do business with this college,” Abel said.

He says it's not about the money, it's about having to pay to get paid, so he can get his education.

Brian now tells us, SCF has cancelled the new card as well as the additional replacement charge, and promised to send him the full $25 check. The college tells us this has never been an issue before, and they do not plan to change any policies.