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UCLA students face new credit card fees for tuition, other payments

June 22, 2011 |  4:13 pm

Ucla The financial stress is ratcheting up a bit for UCLA students who use credit cards to pay campus bills. Starting Aug. 1, the university will charge a 2.75% fee if students use the cards to pay for tuition, housing, parking or other fees.

UCLA administrators say it has been costing the school about $6.5 million a year to absorb processing fees in the credit card transactions and that it can no longer afford those because of reduced state funding for UC. “That’s money that can be better spent in support of academic programs and student services,” campus spokesman Phil Hampton said.

However, UCLA student leaders are upset about the new policy, which comes as students are about to start paying an 8% hike in tuition for the fall term and other increases are being contemplated because of the state budget crisis.

“Especially at a time when tuition is increasing substantially and steadily year after year, forcing students to pay yet another additional fee is unnecessary,” UCLA student body President Emily Resnick said in a statement. Students also are angry about the relatively short notice they were given for the change, which was announced earlier this month.

Such credit card surcharges are common in academia nationwide. Across the UC system, the other campuses either do not allow tuition to be charged or impose a usage fee, UCLA officials said they found in a survey.

Credit card usage has been very popular at UCLA, accounting for 79% of all revenue in student accounts, officials said. The school will maintain a free online system of payment through bank account transfers as well as a monthly payment plan, which carries a $35-per-quarter fee for undergraduate California residents.

Besides instituting the credit card surcharge, UCLA will no longer accept payments with Visa, because those cards do not allow percentage-based convenience fees. Other cards, including MasterCard, Discover and American Express, will be allowed.


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Photo: UCLA's Royce Hall. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times