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Using a credit card for tuition? You'll pay an extra fee

After severe budget cuts from the state, Florida Atlantic University announced this summer that it no longer would process credit cards as payment for tuition.

“We are taking money away from everyone for the few who choose to use credit cards,” said Dorothy Russell, vice president of financial affairs and budget director at FAU.

After the latest round of budget cuts, a collective decision was made to stop absorbing the cost of processing credit cards, Russell said.

FAU informed students there are other ways to pay their tuition without being charged, including cash, money order and personal checks. Visa will no longer be accepted. Discover, MasterCard, and American Express will be accepted online through a third party, PayPath, but student s now will have to pay a 2.6 percent processing fee.

Joel Engles, a communication major at FAU was unaware of the new payment policy until he went to the cashier's office to pay his tuition.

“I had to go online and pay an extra $260 to pay with a credit card. That was more money then I really wanted to spend,” Engles said.

Credit cards were introduced at FAU nearly 10 years ago. Then, the user charges were manageable and easily absorbed by the university, officials said. Over time, the costs continued to escalate. In 2007-08, it was almost $1 million.

“I understand it cost the university a lot of money. But when you go to a restaurant you don't pay for using your credit card. You are buying a service from them, so when you're paying for your tuition, I think it should be the same policy,” sophomore Richard McEachin said.

According to FAU officials, there is a markup in retail stores and restaurants for the credit card processing fee, but FAU is legally only allowed to charge a certain amount per credit hour for convenience fees. Therefore, the added cost is absorbed without revenue to support it.

“I have been very pleased with the overall reaction of the students concerning this situation. I have received phone calls from about 20 students and two letters. Most [students] did not know about the change,” Russell said.

According to Russell, the $1 million saved could go to staff and student activities.




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