Option to pay tuition with Visa coming soon

Alanna Navin

Georgia Southern University is working on a new payment process for students to pay for tuition, which will include the option for students to pay with Visa.

As of January 2013, GSU enacted the new Touchnet Bill + Payment system with a more professional look that creates a new home to the option of paying school fees, Cindy Durden, bursar of Georgia Southern University, said.

Since 2006, GSU has introduced different options for students and families to pay tuition, housing and other fees in order to battle the rising costs of accepting credit cards, according to a statement released by the Controller’s Office. These new options were a result of issues with Visa in particular.

“Probably our biggest complaint was not taking Visa,” Durden said.

“Its seems kind of weird that they don’t accept one credit card out of all the others out there,” Brenda Beckler, sophomore material science engineer major, said.

Before switching to the different online payment options, such as WebCheck, GSU had to pay the large sum of processing fees by implemented by Visa, which created a budget crisis.

Visa, in the past, has not allowed academic institutions to ignore convenience fees. Currently the only group allowed to ignore Visa’s convenience fee is the IRS, Durden said.

The convenience fee was about one million dollars every year, Durden said.

Mastercard and other credit cards allowed institutions to bypass the fee in the past, unlike Visa, Durden said.

“Hopefully, that’s going to change,” she said.

“Visa has now determined where they’ll allow education charges to incur convenience fees,” Durden said.

According to Touchnet Information Systems, as of Nov. 6, 2012, Visa will allow percentage-based convenience fees for Higher Education just as they do for government payments. This means that qualified Visa credit transactions can have an extra fee added based upon the percentage of the payment amount.

Instead of GSU paying a large sum to use Visa, the option has been offered for students to use Visa, but they will have to pay a small processing fee, called a surcharge, according to Touchnet Information Systems.

Durden has sent in the application to Visa to start the process of accepting credit cards without the convenience fee.

When exactly the option of paying with the card will be implemented remains unknown, Durden said.

“It kind of should have been done in the first place. They should have done it from the start,” Tyler Covault, sophomore mechanical engineering major, said.

The university moved to Bill + Payment because it is more secure, and it gives students the option to authorize users, which makes it more versatile to students with family members paying, and it is great option for non-traditional students, Durden said.

There have been issues with the pop-up blocker in the system.

“That was our biggest challenge. It’s hard to know every single browser and how it’s going to react,” Durden said.

Despite the pop-up blocker issue, the feedback on Bill + Payment tends to be positive.

Durden said, “After people get used to it they will like it a lot because it is more professional. We thought long and hard about it before we did it.”