Starting December 2019, students who use a credit card or debit card for e-bill payments will be charged a 2.85 percent convenience fee. The charge was initially scheduled for April 2019 but was delayed.
Kelli Shomaker, chief financial officer for Auburn University, said the University was the only school she saw paying the convenience fee for the student, which cost the University $3.4 million last year and $24 million over the last 10 years. If that money was reallocated, she said, it could be of better use for students.
“As long as you are paying with an e-check, ... there is no charge to you to pay your tuition that way,” Shomaker said. “There is no charge to the student, and then there is no convenience fee that Auburn is having to charge.”
An email sent from the University to Auburn students on March 21 stated that students still have other options for payment that don’t incur additional fees. These options include cash, check and e-check.
Shomaker said a lot of students don’t take advantage of these options because they can use their credit cards to get rewards like cashback or “points.”
Wei Yi, president of the Chinese Student Organization, said international students are uniquely affected by this change.
According to Yi, international students choose to use credit or debit cards for e-bill payments to avoid fees involved with wire transactions — a flat $30 fee for each transaction with Flywire. They may also get cashback when using their credit card.
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He said he’s afraid students will turn to shady third parties in an attempt to avoid any fees. CSO is interested in making sure students are extremely careful when considering a third party.
The Office of International Programs states on their website that international students are estimated to pay $44,448 per academic year to cover tuition and fees, living expenses and health insurance.
If a student were to use a credit or debit card to pay off this cost, they would pay an additional $1,267 in convenience fees.
Mike Reynolds, executive director of student financial services, said students with a bank accounts from outside the United States still have the option to use an e-check.
Deferred payment plans exist to alleviate the financial burden, something that Reynolds said is popular with freshman parents.
Reynolds said he estimates 50 percent of the student population chooses to pay e-bill statements with a credit or debit card.
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