Bursar passes credit card fee to students

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Max Erickson / Sun Star

The University of Alaska Fairbanks, alongside the UA system, will be passing the 2.75 percent credit card processing fee along to students.

Whenever a student pays at the Office of the Bursar with a credit card they will be charged an additional 2.75 percent. While the amount varies, a student paying $10,000 should expect a $275 increase to their bill.

The date to implement this policy is still under discussion and is therefore unknown.

The decision was approved in the chancellors cabinet and then went on to be passed statewide. Amanda Wall, the director of the Office of the Bursar said all three universities will be following this policy.

Whenever a credit card transaction occurs, a small fee must be paid. This fee is the 2.75 percent cost that is being transferred to the students. In the past UAF has always absorbed this cost to the benefit of the students. However, Alaska’s economy has suffered because of lowered oil prices, so to conserve costs the UA system has been forced to evaluate any options.

The practice of having the students cover the cost of the credit card transaction is not limited to the UA system. Many other universities across the nation are steadily switching over to having students pay the cost of credit card transactions. It seems miniscule, but when the UAF has to cover thousands of students costs the total amount gathered from the 2.75 percent fee is substantial.

“Obviously we don’t like having to pass anything on to the students, but the whole budget situation makes it difficult,” Wall said.

As credit cards have become more commonplace, an increasing number of students are using them to pay for tuition which has led to higher costs for UAF.

Andrea Erskin, a customer service representative at the Office of the Bursar, cited a study conducted in 2014 by creditcard.com, that found that a majority of universities within the study passed the fee of credit card usage onto the students.

The University is experiencing trouble with credit card payments because the credit card industry is changing in such a way that is making it more difficult and costly to use credit cards. Staying compliant with the rules of the credit card industry is becoming increasingly difficult. This is one main reason why so many universities are having the students cover the 2.75 percent fee, Wall said.

The Office of the Bursar has worked hard to make sure that there are fee-free payment alternatives for students who are worrying about the increase in costs.

“We always offer other ways to pay that don’t incur any fees, like wire transfers, cash, checks, debit cards,” Wall said. She also said that the decision has been thoroughly discussed and the ASUAF student government president, Mathew Carrick, supported the decision as long as the alternative methods of payment exist.

This decision was made with the mindset to make it as fair and equitable as possible to the students, Raaj Kurupati, the associate vice chancellor for Financial Services, said. These fees were examined down to the level of how much each credit costs and changes over fees will occur in the transportation fees as well as the residence life fees.

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