Credit crunch

- April 17, 2009

In uncertain economic times the chance to save more than $1 million seems like a “no-brainer” but Dalhousie’s Budget Advisory Committee is wrestling with the decision whether to accept credit card payments for tuition and residence fees.

Dalhousie pays credit card companies a whopping $1.3 million a year in transactional fees. Most of those fees are collected on tuition and residence payments, about 40 per cent of which are made with credit cards.

Even if the university removes the credit card option for tuition and residence payments, on-line payment will still be an option. The university is listed as a “vendor” or “payee” with all major Canadian banks and many of the smaller institutions and credit unions as well, so payments can be made at virtually all the on-line banking sites.

International students could pay by direct bank transfer or through the university’s website using the StudentPay service, which allows direct payment in their home currency.

Credit cards will still be accepted by the university for many expenses, such as bookstore purchases, admission and residence deposits, application fees and other charges. 

VP Academic Alan Shaver, who chairs the BAC said there is some hesitation to remove the convenience of credit card payments, but believes students will understand when they consider the choice.

“It’s a clear choice between $1 million to Dalhousie or $1 million to the credit card companies.  If it stays here it will support education, if it goes there it will boost corporate profits.”

The Budget Advisory Committee is nearing completion of its recommendations to President Tom Traves for the 2009-10 budget.  It has been a difficult process because of the overall economic uncertainty and, until very recently, questions about the level of provincial funding.


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