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Credit cards are off limit for tuition

by Archives September 8, 2009

Some students are already complaining about the inconvenience of not being able to use credit cards to pay tuition.

“As a foreign student, credit card payment was very easy,” said Pierre Chuard, an ecology student. “Now it’s a bit more complicated because I have to find another way.”

The last chance for students to pay tuition with a swipe and a signature was August 31.

Economic reasons were a driving factor in the decision to outlaw plastic payment, according to an e-mail sent to students and a statement posted online.

In the statement, the University said it is paying over $1 million each year in credit card transaction fees – money that the school, and some students, said could be better spent.

“If it can help Concordia to invest in more important things than credit card fees, I’m all for it,” said Chuard.

Davenson Lomard, a student of electrical engineering thinks the change has potential for some good. “It’s a good thing for the students, ” he said. “The university saves a lot of money in fees. This money can be used to improve facilities and services.”

For those who are scratching their heads, searching for other ways to pay, the university’s other payment options are still available: online banking, payment by mail, telephone banking, direct transfer of funds and payment in person by cheque or bank card at the Birks Student Service Centre.

But what about the students who do not have access to $3,000 right now?

“I can see, especially given the really bad situation in Montreal student employment right now, it’s gonna hurt a lot of people,” said Michael O’Brien, a philosophy graduate student. “On the Concordia website, they said this shouldn’t affect your decision to continue studying at Concordia. But realistically, without other payment options, it’s empty. It’s probably gonna put a lot of people out,” he said, adding he doesn’t expect the change to affect him too much, on account of his “lucky situation.”

The university said in a release it will continue to accept credit card payment for some student expenses, including application fees, residence deposits, bookstore and computer store purchases, and for donations.

Concordia stopped accepting credit cards for tuition payment at midnight on Aug. 31. Dalhousie University made the same announcement over the summer, claiming they paid about $1 million in transaction fees last year. University of Alberta stopped accepting credit cards last year.

Some schools, such as Queen’s, McGill and University of Toronto have never accepted tuition payed on credit. Not only do students at Carleton have to pay tuition through some form of direct transfer of funds, they have to pay both semesters up front.

Though the university’s administration says their students can pay on a per-semester basis, they note that any deferred payment is subject to an interest-like charge.

Universities who don’t accept credit cards for tuition say they would prefer to spend the money that goes to credit companies on scholarships and bursaries, and other academic services.

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