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Cost of convenience: 2.75 percent

Merchant fees pass on to students

Cost of convenience: 2.75 percent

Jon Coffey

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If you pay for tuition and fees at Emporia State with plastic, be prepared to cough up a little extra for the convenience.

At ESU, the fee passed along to students for the use of a credit card is 2.75 percent. This represents a “merchant fee,” which is a percentage of a transaction that credit card companies charge businesses.

“If you’re paying for your tuition fees with a credit card, which could be around $5,000, then just 2 percent of that would be $100, which adds up very quickly,” said Pam Norton, assistant controller of Business Affairs.

TouchNet is the company the university uses to provide security for accepting credit cards. ESU, therefore, must follow the payment card industry standards, which require level of security that involves that third party company, said Mary Mingenback, controller of Business Affairs.

“Because we are sending all credit card payments through this credit card company and their payment gateway, which is a very safe and secure environment, that third party payment charges a merchant fee of 2.75 percent,” Mingenback said.

In order to keep costs down for students and the university, ESU charges student accounts individually to use a credit card to pay for tuition and fees. ESU was paying around $200,000 in credit card charges before the university started to charge to student accounts individually about four or five years ago, Norton said.

One way around this transaction fee is to pay with a webcheck. There are no fees attached to this payment through the credit card company because it comes straight out of one’s bank account. ESU will pay the bank transactions for the webchecks so it does not get charged to the students’ accounts. Students can also pay with checks in person at Cashiering Services, located on the first floor of Plumb Hall.

“Paying the extra fee isn’t a bad thing because it’s less money the university has to spend on credit card fees and instead it can be spent on projects that benefit the school,” said Elizabeth Ravenstein, sophomore marketing major.

Pittsburgh State, Kansas State, Wichita State and other Kansas universities all have the same type of merchant fees that the students have to pay.

“TouchNet payment gateway is very secure, and I love the way they set up the student accounts,” Mingenback said. “It’s very easy to see their information to pay online with the choice of a webcheck or credit card.”

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