U of C: credit card free zone?

By Chris Beauchamp

In light of tuition rising annually, the U of C is concerned about the nearly $1 million in fees they pay to credit card companies for transactions and the value students are getting from this service.

“As part of this year’s tuition fee consultation process, we learned that payment of fees by credit card cost the university almost $1 million in credit card transaction fees,” said University of Calgary Vice-President Finance and Services Mike McAdam.

According to McAdam, there were 76,017 individual credit card transactions last year.

“This relates only to tuition fee payments,” said McAdam. “We are not researching the use of credit cards in commercial transactions.”

The actual fee rates are protected by confidentiality clauses, he added, but claimed “our fees are as low as we can get them.”

McAdam asked Students’ Union President Jayna Gilchrist to consult other SU members and advise him on their perspective. He also stressed that there was no current intention to scrap the service.

“I have heard from students who needed to put everything on their credit cards while appealing their student loan,” noted SU Clubs Committee Chair Shawna Little during the Tue., Jan. 22 Student Legislative Council meeting. “It isn’t a convenience, it’s a necessity.”

“I don’t know why this is coming to [SLC],” continued Little. “It puts us in a difficult spot.”

Little’s viewpoint was furthered by SU VP Operations and Finance Gavin Preston, who strongly advocates full transparency in university expenditures.

“They’re asking us to comment on one line of the budget,” insisted Preston. “We need a full budget submission–not piecemeal. Then we can make budget suggestions. I don’t think anyone can say ‘get rid of one thing, get rid of another,’ because we don’t know.

“[McAdam] wants a political pawn to say he consulted with students.”

SU Op-Fi Commissioner Jarrod Fuhr took issue with the credit card companies themselves.

“In my opinion, these credit card companies are doing some good business here–to be paid fees only to charge interest and make money later,” he said.

Fuhr stressed all the students he’d spoken with wanted the service to continue.

Gilchrist said, with general consent from council members, she would report to McAdam the SU supports continuing the service.

Students can currently pay their tuition fees with both Visa and MasterCard, in person, by telephone or on the Infonet.

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