Check please: DSU’s card-unfriendly policy

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Instead of credit or debit cards, students paying tuition and fees at the cashier window are required to pay with cash or check, which is something they don’t have easy access to.

Dixie State University students are accustomed to using plastic in their everyday lives. They use cards at the gas station, when buying groceries, or out with friends at the movies.

Mary Foremaster, a junior dance major from St. George, said she doesn’t always have cash on hand or use a checkbook, and for students who try to pay a fee, it can be a hassle when they are told they have to pay with cash or check.

“Barely any people really use checkbooks anymore or have cash at all — everyone just uses cards,” Foremaster said.

Students who are not eligible for federal loans and pay tuition with their own money are the most affected by the inability to use debit cards.

Foremaster said: “If someone’s like ‘Hey, you can only pay with cash and that’s it’…It’s definitely not the preferred thing.”

Christy Jensen, head cashier revenue specialist, said the decision to only accept cash or check payments was made by Business Services because there is a fee for processing debit and credit cards.

Scott Jensen, executive director of business services, said there is a lot of cost associated with accepting cards, which come from banks and the Payment Card Industry, who charge businesses a significant fee to process those types of payments. The administration had to look at the whole picture and decided it is cheaper for the school to not take card payments at the cashier window.

“By accepting cards at the window and not having a convenience fee, like this third party does, it increases the cost for the student who wants to pay cash or check because now they are basically supplementing those charge card fees,” Scott Jensen said.

According to an article called “The Complete Guide to Credit Card Processing Rates and Fees,” on the Merchant Maverick website,  the credit card companies — Visa, Mastercard and Discover to name a few — charge businesses a percentage of each transaction, plus a 2.10 percent flat rate. The business can account for some of this cost to them by charging the customer a convenience fee or pay the flat rate.

Other fees, according to the article, are charged by PCI, the IRS, terminal fees, payment gateway fees — the list goes on. With all these fees, providing the ability to pay with a card can get expensive.

Scott Jensen said, “The biggest three reasons we went that direction a few years ago were budget cuts, the simple cost of managing personal data — the required protection of that — and just the fact that we needed a different solution to manage our business.”

Christy Jensen said not accepting cards at the cashier window forces students who need to pay with a credit card, to pay online where they would be required to pay the accompanying fee.

There are other options available to students needing to pay fees other than the cashier window. They can go to my.dixie.edu and select make a payment, where they will be given the option to pay with credit card, debit card or electronic check. Banks such as Wells Fargo and Mountain America provide school loans for students who are eligible.

The ability to pay with a card at the cashier window will not happen in the foreseeable future, but having the option to pay online is a step toward making the payment process easier for students.