CU cites fees, student debt for plastic rejection
Tuition and fees for students continue to rise and students’ struggles to pay them off grow worse.
The struggle for students to afford these bills made some universities decide to accept credit cards as a form of payment – but not CU.
“The reason we don’t is that they’re too expensive,” said Jean Thomson, bursar office director.
The university would have to pay $2 to $3 million in merchant fees to the credit card companies. The only way to cover this cost would be to raise tuition and force students to pay the extra expense, Thomson said.
CU has not had issues collecting tuition on time from students, and this makes it easier to function without credit cards.
“Our ability to collect tuition is so good that we as an institution don’t need the money from credit card companies,” Thomson said.
The merchant fees are not the only concern associated with credit card payments.
“You certainly don’t want to start your career with huge debt on your credit card,” Thomson said.
The threat of debt is too high for freshman Katie Collins to even consider using a credit card as a form of payment.
“It’s hard enough to budget your money anyway,” Collins said. The university should not accept credit cards because it is too dangerous for students, she added.
Plus, students may never get out of debt from tuition if they can only make the minimum payment on credit card bills, Thomson said.
The CU-Denver campus, on the other hand, accepts credit cards for tuition from students, but the Health Sciences Center does not because of the high merchant fees.
“We would rather not pay it (the merchant fee), but it’s a convenience to our students and a way to help,” said Jim Freas, Bursar for CU-Denver and Health Sciences.
The student population at CU-Denver is different than CU-Boulder and this contributes to the decision to accept credit cards, Thomson said.
Students at CU-Boulder are full-time students, while at CU-Denver non-traditional students (those who work or only attend school part-time) are a large portion of the population, she said.
CU-Denver pays six figures in merchant fees to credit card companies, Freas said. They accept all major credit cards including American Express, MasterCard, Discover and Visa.
“I’m guessing some (students) do it because it’s convenient and I’m guessing some do it for the airplane miles,” Freas said. But overall, students appreciate the opportunity to pay with their credit card, he said.
Even though credit card payment isn’t accepted now, CU-Boulder has not completely ruled out accepting credit cards in the future.
If the fees were eliminated for higher education, credit cards would be a possibility, Thomson said.