Paying tuition with plastic will cost you

MRU approves transaction fee for credit card payments

Plastic is the preferred payment method for most Mount Royal University students when it comes to paying for tuition and residence, and it’s about to get more expensive.

Effective Nov. 13, paying fees by credit card will cost students an additional $57 for a five course semester.

MasterCard transactions will cost an additional 1.79 per cent, and Visa an additional 1.89 per cent. Plastiq, a new credit processor, allows MRU to pass the fees directly on to the cardholder.

According to MRU financial services, more than 50 per cent of students pay their fees via credit cards, and the cost to the university is quite substantial, draining the institution of over $500,000 a year.

“We absorb those fees,” said Annalise Van Ham, acting associate vice-president financial services at Mount Royal. “The cost is escalating and is significant.”

The decision to charge students a processing fee came about in an institution-wide review of costs due to budget reductions, Van Ham said. As part of that process, the school was looking for savings that did not have a direct impact on the classroom.

The issue of credit card costs is not unique to MRU. Many other post-secondary institutions already refuse credit cards for tuition payments.

Van Ham said MRU considered no longer accepting credit cards, but was urged by the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University to consider other options.

“SAMRU has advocated against these payment changes from the beginning,” said students’ association president Kaylene McTavish. “With MRU’s early payment deadlines, we knew it was going to negatively impact our members.”

With so many students paying their fees via credit card this may seem like a tuition increase, but Van Ham said it’s not. “The fees are completely unchanged. This cost is for the option of paying by credit card. We make available several other options.”

MRU also accepts payments through their online bill payment system, debit card and other means, though debit cards are not encouraged due to long line-ups.

Mount Royal’s Board of Governors approved the bill in June 2012 to no longer accept credit cards, but because of the decision to use Plastiq, the change did occur.

Students will be notified on the registration page when they pay their fees, according to Van Ham. An email communication will also be sent out and notifications will be displayed via Omnivex screens in the MRU halls.

“It’s a challenge to look across the institution to see where we can cut to make the least impact on the delivery of core services” Van Ham said.

 SAMRU will be hosting an event in November where the fees will be discussed, among other financial literacy issues.