New fee leaves students in an uproar
Many UA students are outraged after the UA Bursar’s Office announced an additional fee on Monday.
In an email sent out to students, the Bursar’s Office said a 2.5 percent convenience fee will be charged to UA students who choose to pay the balance on their Bursar’s account with credit or debit cards, effective May 5. Nelnet, the company contracted by the UA to process credit and debit card payments, charges the 2.5 percent user fee, none of which is paid to the UA, according to the Bursar’s Office website.
The website states that the Bursar’s Office will no longer directly accept credit or debit card payments for Bursar account charges.
On base tuition, this fee will total about $260 a year for in-state students and nearly $680 a year for out-of-state students.
Students have responded by signing a petition on Change.org asking for the UA to remove the 2.5 percent fee. The petition was started by Tiffany Rose Lee, a religious studies, creative writing and nutritional sciences senior, and as of Tuesday evening, it had obtained more than 5,000 signatures.
Mark McGurk, the associate vice president of Financial Services, said that the university would respond to the online petition and try to educate students about the fee. McGurk said it is important for students to know that this is not a new fee.
McGurk said the UA has been paying roughly $3 million every year in user fees to credit card companies, just so students have the ability to pay tuition with credit or debit cards.
“The university budget should be used to support programs and faculty salaries and not to pay user fees to credit card companies,” McGurk said. “We cannot afford to continue to pay these fees.”
McGurk added that the university’s response to the petition would likely focus on assuring students that this is not a new fee, and it was a fee that the university had been paying. All Pac-12 schools charge user fees, or do not allow students to pay tuition with credit card at all, he said.
Students can avoid paying the 2.5 percent fee by paying tuition charges through eChecks, personal checks or cash paid to the Bursar’s Office.
“Even though there are other methods of payment, paying with a card is the easiest and most convenient,” said Ilena Jayaraman, a pre-business sophomore. “As someone who receives little to no financial aid and is not on scholarship, every additional cost makes a difference to me.”
Morgan Abraham, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, said that developing steps to ease the burden of this upcoming fee on students is important because it is more money coming out of students’ pockets.
“There needs to be more dialogue and discussion between the university and the students,” Abraham said.
Doug Plunk, a sophomore pre-business major, pays his tuition with a credit card so that he can use the miles he earns to fly home and visit family. Plunk said he signed the Change.org petition.
“The university will definitely respond to the petition,” Plunk said, “but I don’t know if it will change their decision.”