Director, UNC Card and Student Business Services,
University of Northern Colorado
In the past 15 years, the card industry has seen the relationships between banks and universities come and go. Early on, universities expected the bank to be the cash cow and provide ongoing support for their entire card program. What they seemed to forget is that to give the university something, it has to be earned somewhere else, which was normally by charging the students for the services in some other way, i.e. ATM fees, monthly service charges, low balance fees.
After a number of years of failure and ineffective programs, banks and universities finally sat back and asked some important questions. What do students really want? What do parents really want? How can a service and benefit be delivered to the student that is beneficial to the bank and to the university? How can the bank and the university work together as partners to come up with something that makes sense for everyone? Today, numerous banks and universities have found products and services that are a perfect fit.
Most importantly, the university needs to be sure there is significant support for a bank relationship and that all departments affected want to see this enhanced service. For example, the financial aid department and the bursars office need to support the project. The orientation groups need to be actively informed of the importance of the bank relationship, there must be buy-in at the highest levels of senior administration, and the student governance groups need to understand what you are trying to accomplish and why. If all areas understand and support the project, adding a bank relationship to your existing card program can be highly beneficial for all involved – students, parents, and the university.
With this change in how universities approach bank relationships, we will continue to see interest in adding this valuable service to card programs throughout 2008 and into future years.
Another area to consider: since the students of today are highly mobile, they want the flexibility of being able to use their cards everywhere in the country, or even in the world. Many students are doing exchange programs overseas, and interestingly, they want to be able to use their ID cards as ATM and debit cards as they travel. They also need the university to continue to be able to distribute financial aid into their accounts, and most importantly, they want mom and dad to be able to deposit funds into their accounts no matter where they are. Having these types of banking relationships gives our mobile students the ability to do all of these things through their bank issued ID Cards.
Pros and Cons of Banking Relationships
There are numerous pros and cons that you need to consider if you are looking at adding a bank relationship to your card program.
- Partnering with a bank gives you wider exposure for your card program.
- Gives students flexibility in using their cards world wide – great for students on exchange.
- Partnering with a national bank gives parents flexibility and convenience in making deposits to their student’s accounts.
- If doing ACH for financial aid disbursements and payroll, will reduce printed paper costs dramatically. Increased efficiencies for payroll, accounts receivable, and your accounting department in reconcilements.
- Possible shared expenses in printing of brochures and card stock.
- Possible shared expenses in marketing materials and promotional items, i.e. pens, card holders, lanyards
- Possible donations to your foundation.
- Possible scholarship donations.
- National exposure from the bank regarding your card program.
- If you are currently doing a declining balance account on campus, you have to be very careful in how you explain the differences in services so students don’t make deposits to the wrong “account”.
- You must consider if it will impact your deposits to your own declining balance account.
About the AVISIAN Publishing Expert Panel
At the close of each year, AVISIAN Publishing’s editorial team selects a group of key leaders from various sectors of the ID technology market to serve as Expert Panelists. Each individual is asked to share their unique insight into what lies ahead. During the month of December, these panelist’s predictions are published daily at the appropriate title within the AVISIAN suite of ID technology publications: SecureIDNews.com, ContactlessNews.com, CR80News.com, RFIDNews.org, FIPS201.com, NFCNews.com, ThirdFactor.com, and DigitalIDNews.com.