Online paying fees increase

R. Troy Peterson, Staff Reporter

This year, Central’s online convenience fee for credit cards went from $3 to 2.75 percent. While the fee was determined by a third party company‒Higher One‒the reaction of students has ranged greatly.

Adrian Naranjo, the director of Financial Aid, manages the financial office and student accounts.

“It isn’t a fee that Central is collecting,” Naranjo said. “We’re not getting any revenue from it or getting any kind of kickback from it.”

Phil Rush, vice president of Clubs and Organizations for Student Government, said that the increased fee is unfair to Central students.

“Not only do students have to pay a ridiculous amount in tuition already,” Rush said. “Charging a percentage cap on that if they want to pay with their own personal funds, instead of financial aid, on a card, is ridiculous.”

Naranjo said that the previous convenience fee had been contracted through Sallie Mae. The original contract lasted for nine years.

Sallie Mae’s campus solutions business, the segment which was originally contracted with Central, was purchased by Higher One and was announced via Higher One’s website, on May 7, 2013.

Once Higher One purchased Sallie Mae, they contacted Central and said they had to either create a new contract or look for a new vendor.

“We looked at other vendors to see what the other service fees were,” Naranjo said.

The other vendors Central looked at had a similar payment structure. These companies included TouchNet Information Systems, Heartland Campus Solutions and Universal Payment Systems.

Naranjo said that while Central wanted to have the feature of being able to pay through MyCWU, the vendors kept coming back to the same price.

“It averages anywhere from 2.75 percent up to 3.25 percent, depending on which vendor you went with,” Naranjo said.

According to Naranjo, the fee is only applicable to credit card transactions, and any transactions with bank accounts will not be subject to the fee.

According to Central’s records, there has been a significant drop in payments online. Naranjo said that while the numbers aren’t necessarily a head count of students paying, they are nonetheless telling of student reactions.

“Last fall, the amount which was transactioned through that payment system was $2.4 million,” Naranjo said. “This September, that went to $1 million.”

The in-person credit card transactions are not through Higher One, but are instead contracted through U.S. Bank. He said that Central pays Higher One roughly $10,000 annually for their services. Higher One makes about $29,382 through the 2.75 percent fee through MyCWU, Naranjo said.

Rush said that the 2.75 percent convenience fee could have a greater effect on off-campus students, such as students at the Central centers in Des Moines, Lynwood, and Moses Lake.

“That might be one of the only way[s] [off-campus students] can pay,” Rush said. “So, it kind of sucks for them.”

Cameron Rindlisbacher, accounting major, said that for online classes which already have fees, it will only compound the financial burden.

“There’s certain majors that are entirely online,” Rindlisbacher said. “You can do the entire program online, and now that’s really expensive. Like, $3000 for a 15-credit quarter?”

Rush said that he does not agree with the 2.75 percent convenience fee.

“The whole point of an online payment system is to be convenient,” Rush said. “And a percentage on a couple thousand dollars tuition is a convenience fee that’s just approaching ridiculous.”