Credit cards declined at Concordia University

Students returning to Concordia University of Montreal, Quebec who attempt to pay tuition with a quick swipe of their credit cards may find that they are declined -- not because they've reached their credit limits, but because their school is joining the ranks of universities that are no longer accepting plastic.

Concordia University announced in early August that it is one of the latest members of a growing list of Canadian universities no longer accommodating tuition payments via credit card.

Beginning Aug. 31, 2009 card payments for tuition and fees will be eliminated due to the high cost of commission and transaction charges. Concordia officials estimate that credit card fees cost the university about $1.3 million. In order to cut costs, students will need to pay by money order, bank-certified cheques, online banking, direct transfer of funds, cash or debiting a bank account.  By utilizing these methods of payment, the predicted savings is estimated to be almost $800,000. 

"Challenged by economic difficulties currently affecting all Canadian universities and chronic underfunding of post-secondary education in Quebec, Concordia University has been reducing costs in various areas while minimizing the impact on the quality of academic programs," said the university's announcement regarding the change.

Other universities that have banned tuition payments via credit cards, such as McGill University of Montreal, Quebec, and St. Thomas University of Fredericton, New Brunswick, site similar financial concerns as the main motivation behind the policy change.

"Unfortunately, the credit card companies charge a service fee to the university which cannot be passed on to the consumer," stated McGill University's website. "Since tuition fees are set by the Quebec government, we cannot incorporate these fees into our cost of doing business."

Two of the largest public schools in the country -- The University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia -- top the list of those eliminating plastic. In some provinces, such as New Brunswick, the majority of public universities refuse credit card payments. Out of four universities, the Université de Moncton is the only remaining New Brunswick public school still permitting tuition payments via cards.

As is the case with most of the other universities, Concordia will still accept credit in some situations. Application fees, confirmation fee deposits, residence application fees and deposits, School of Extended learning non-credit course fees, parking fees, book, digital computer store purchases and donations can still be made using cards.

See related: <a href="">PIN debit card interchange fees challenged</a>, <a href="">Moving abroad? Your credit history might not follow</a>, <a href="">Avoid the traps of introductory, low interest credit cards</a>
Published December 31, 2009

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