An inconvenient convenience fee

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Starting the Fall semester of 2016, students will be charged a 2.75 percent convenience fee by TouchNet for paying their tuition by debit or credit card.

According to Stephen Turner, vice chancellor of Finance and Administration, the school had been paying processing fees from the card companies, but it had gotten to a point where the amount of money being paid was attention-grabbing to the administration overseeing the financial records.

Kevin Popa, associate director of Student Accounts and Operations, said the school paid $344,723.29 last year in processing fees from companies that were charging various percentages, some over 2.75 percent.

Students paying for their tuition will be able to avoid the fee by paying with a check or money order, which can be paid in person or by mail. Students will also have the option of paying by e-check, and they can set up an account to do so when they start the process of paying their tuition online.

Popa said that students that still wish to pay by debit or credit card will see that a minimum fee of $3 is charged when they begin the payment process and that students will be reminded of the fee again before they confirm their payment.

“If the students want to avoid this fee, they should take the time to set up the profile when they first log in to pay. There they will be able to enter all their information, and it’s convenient for them because it will be saved so they only have to enter it once,” Popa said.

Turner hopes students take notice of the information and pay through the other methods instead.

“This is part of the economic consumer knowledge that we would hope students know,” Turner said. “We knew [the processing fee amount] had grown to a scale where action was necessary, but we want to help the students avoid the fee.”

The fee will be applied to students that are enrolled in dual-credit classes as well.