Students looking to pay their tuition bill at the University of New Mexico using a credit or debit card may have to pay a nearly three percent fee for the privilege.
UNM outsourced its handling of credit and debit card payments to TouchNet Information Systems, Inc., and the fee covers the cost of the service, according to the university Bursar’s Office. The fee is a cost-saving measure, said Elizabeth Metzger, a university administrator.
“Under these current tight budget constraints, UNM continues to look for efficiencies and cost-cutting measures campus-wide,” Metzger said. “This credit card convenience fee was costing the University hundreds of thousands of dollars, so we felt it was necessary to make this change.”
The university will apply the fee to all credit or debit cards transactions through a student’s bursar’s account.
Students can avoid the fee by paying via check or through an electronic check attached to a checking or savings account.
Some students aren’t happy about the news.
Damian Russell, 20, paid a $3 fee to pay a portion of his tuition earlier this week.
It wasn’t a huge burden, he said, but it was enough to catch his attention.
“It’s kind of annoying because we’re already charged so much,” Russell said.
And he understands the university may be trying to save money, but it still feels like students are being asked to pick up the bill.
The fee also comes at a time after regents raised tuition and fees last semester in attempt to address budget woes. The fee also can serve as a reminder of the unadvertised costs that come with attending school.
UNM’s tuition for full-time students taking 15 to 18 credit hours is $2,643. Mandatory student fees run another $832 and support campus organizations such as KUNM and the Women’s Resource Center.
Students in some programs, such as engineering or nursing, pay additional fees.
So a student using a credit or debit card to pay about $7,000 annually to attend UNM would have to pay roughly $210 more a year with the new card policy.
That doesn’t include the cost of books, course fees, parking permits or other costs students might incur while attending school. For example, a fee to replace a lost ID card costs $30. A south lot permit, parking off the main campus that students access via shuttle, runs $175 for the year.
Those fees are often processed through a student’s bursar account, so the new fee for credit and debit cards is likely to affect even those students whose tuition has already been paid.