Online credit and debit card payment fees

Question

 

Question #1
Many students that I have encountered have expressed irritation with the 2.75 percent transaction fee policy for student payments with credit/debit cards.  I am concerned about the amount of ill will it seems to be generating, especially since our incoming first year students conduct their entire lives online and with debit cards and have probably never written a check.  Combine that with the NSF and collection costs that personal checks incur and I respectfully suggest that this policy be reconsidered if at all possible.

Question #2
Why is UAF now charging students the 2.75 percent convenience fee when making payments on line? And why is the main campus not allowed to accept credit/debit cards in-person, but CTC can?  As a student who already feels nickle-and-dimed to death, it seems a bit much to increase tuition, fees, housing, meals and now charge a convenience fee.

Question #3
Why is the University of Alaska charging a transaction fee to use credit/debit cards through UAOnline?  Doesn’t it make more sense to charge this fee if you call in or use staff time? Also, why can we no longer pay on the phone or in person at Signers’ Hall, but CTC can take the payments? I’ve been a student at UAF for a long time and this makes absolutely no sense.

 

Response

Thank you for the questions about the new card payment policy and fees.

First, to clarify, the university has changed the plan announced in May. The university continues to take payments by credit and debit cards at the Office of the Bursar on the Fairbanks campus this academic year. Also, there continues to be no fee when paying with a card in person at the Bursar’s Office.

However, our vendor does now charge a 2.75 percent fee if a person pays online with a debit or credit card.

The university still offers other payment methods with no fees, and we encourage people to use those. You can pay with cash, check or money order in person at the Bursar’s Office in Signers’ Hall. You also can pay online with a web check — just be sure to have your bank’s routing number and your account number available.

Processing payments costs money. In the past, UAF bore the cost of these transactions. With budget cuts, this is no longer possible. We’re using our limited funds to cover the cost of maintaining multiple options, including in-person payments. Meanwhile, the online card payment vendor, which we previously paid directly but no longer do, is now charging the 2.75 percent fee to cover its costs. This is not a UAF fee but is levied by the vendor and charged to the students paying in this format.

UAF initially hoped to move to a fully online mode and, in May, communicated that all credit card payments would need to be made online as of June 1 and would be subject to the fee. Based on feedback, we adjusted the plan. We continue to take all forms of payment with no fee at the Fairbanks campus. We coach students to consider the online payment options to minimize in-person wait times at the Bursar’s Office.

—Amanda Wall, bursar, University of Alaska Fairbanks