By: Tyler Costello

Algonquin joined other post-secondary institutions on Oct. 1 by no longer accepting credit cards as payment for tuition.

The move, which will eliminate credit card transaction fees the college has to pay, will only affect students enrolled in full-time programs.

“By removing the option to pay by credit card we are freeing up resources that will be invested in our programs,” Algonquin administration announced through a mass e-mail to students on Sept. 18

Credit card companies usually charge a 1.75 to 2 per cent rate, which varies depending on the size of the institution or business, on any payment made using their cards.

In an era of high deficits and increasing provincial government austerity, the college is looking to eliminate unnecessary costs in its budget.

“As a means of balancing where we spend the money, we would prefer to spend less on fees that go to banks and keep that money on the programs that go to the students,” said Cathy Dempsey, director of finance and administration.
Dempsey couldn’t give an exact number for the amount of tuition paid with credit in previous years but said, “the dollar value was in the tens of millions. So the savings are huge.”

A similar move by Kwantlen Polytechnic University, in B.C., estimated savings to be in the $250,000 range in 2010. According to Kwantlen’s website, it has 17,500 students annually compared to Algonquin College’s 18,000.
Although this move is new to Algonquin, University of Ottawa and Carleton University have traditionally not allowed credit card payment of full-time tuition and Ontario colleges such as Niagara, Mohawk, Sheridan and Loyalist have already implemented this change.

However, Alan Connor, a second-year computer science student, vented to the Times by stating that “for students who don’t have the money to pay tuition up front, this could be a huge inconvenience.”

Students who previously relied on credit will likely have to obtain a cash advance from their credit card company and Dempsey acknowledged that the move would likely not please everyone.

Prior to the implementation of this change the administration did consult a number of post-secondary institutions.

“They indicated to us that the response was very positive, very few complaints,” said Dempsey.

Both VISA and Mastercard Canada refused to comment.