Budget office enacts new credit card policy

Budget office enacts new credit card policy

by Allison UllmannStaff Writer

The use of credit cards to pay student accounts owed to Simpson has increased over the past several years. Due to that increase, the amount of fees that Simpson has incurred related to the acceptance of the credit cards has also increased. The amount to which it had grown and the fact that it was continuing to grow prompted changes made to the credit card policy.

According to Ken Birkenholtz, vice president of business and finance, a 2 percent convenience fee will be added to all credit card payments. Because Visa does not allow convenience fees, Simpson will no longer be able to accept Visa. Birkenholtz says that the convenience fees are what Simpson has to pay the processing companies to process the payments.

“We were seeing a fairly sharp increase in cost to the college in processing fees, which actually topped $50,000 last year,” Birkenholtz said. “As we looked at how we felt we could best serve the entire student body, [we realized] that there are a lot of students and their families that don’t use credit cards to pay on their accounts. But in effect, they are picking up a part of that cost, because it is a general operating cost to the college that we have to recover. Our biggest single source of income is student fees, so obviously it has an impact and as we see that line growing so drastically, we felt that it was probably fairest to everyone to implement a situation that allows for those who want to use the cards to pick up the direct cost.”

Birkenholtz said that the convenience fee that Simpson set is based on the direct cost for the processing fees. The goal is not to make money with the new policy. The convenience fee that Simpson is charging just recoups their direct cost for the use of credit cards.

“We also did quite a bit of checking into other schools, and what we’re doing is very similar to the rules that are in place at other institutions,” Birkenholtz said. “Very few [schools] that we talked to accept credit card payments without any type of limitation or stipulation.”

A new payment option will be available on StormFront to help offset the effects of the new credit card policies. Students can make payments by credit card, with the 2 percent convenience fee, and they will also be able to make payments by electronic check/ACH by entering their bank account information. No convenience fee will be charged for accepting Automated Clearing House transactions.

“The new policy will definitely benefit Simpson College and the students of Simpson College,” Birkenholtz said. “That’s why we’re doing it.”

However, not all students see the new credit card policy in a positive light. Senior Eric Zisoff, an economy and management major, believes that the new policy is unfair to students.

“I don’t like the fact that Simpson is charging fees to students,” Zisoff said. “It’s unfair to students who pay enough without the added 2 percent fees.”

Senior Calie Hohneke, an accounting and management major, understands the reasons behind the new policy but believes that it will impose an inconvenience for students.

“I don’t think it’s fair because so many students do use credit cards and it’s going to be an inconvenience for students and parents trying to pay for their accounts,” Hohneke said.

Senior Jeana Muhlbauer, an accounting major, believes that the new policy is disturbing for students.

“I think that making students pay more for using a credit card to pay our already high-priced education is pretty unsettling, but I understand that because of credit card usage, the college has incurred more cost,” Muhlbauer said. “The college needs some way to cover the cost.”