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Making Card Payments for Education, Students and Families Can Now Choose the Fee They Pay

Screenshot of the Tuition Management System's eWallet, featuring the options to pay by credit card with a $14.95 fee, pay by debit card with a $3.75 fee, or pay by bank account with no fee.
In TMS’s eWallet, students view the service fee associated with each of their saved cards. The fee is based on each card’s actual cost of acceptance. By selecting their payment method, students can choose the fee they pay.

Tuition Management Systems (“TMS”), a leading provider of education payment services for Higher Education and private K–12 schools, and CardX, a technology provider of world-first card acceptance solutions, today launched an integrated solution that raises the standard for tuition and tuition-related payment acceptance.

81% of universities use a “service fee” to cover the cost of card acceptance when students pay with credit and debit cards. [1] Until now, service fees have typically been assessed as a single, flat-percentage rate (such as 2.75%), regardless of what card is chosen. However, different card types have different costs, and a flat-rate service fee forces a consumer with a low-cost card to subsidize a consumer with a more costly rewards card.

To improve on the service fee model, Intelligent Rate prices the service fee in proportion to the actual cost to accept the card that the student chooses. As a result, students with low-cost cards pay a lower fee. Students can reduce the fee amount in real time by choosing a lower-cost form of payment, such as a debit card or a no-frills credit card.

Intelligent Rate is being offered as a turn-key solution to applicable TMS member schools, and it is fully integrated within TMS’s secure, PCI-compliant Payment Portal and Student Account Center.

Craig Lockwood, President at TMS, observed, “Intelligent Rate is a smarter approach to service fees. Most cardholders pay less with Intelligent Rate, and all cardholders are informed of lower-cost alternatives. It’s consistent with our mission of helping students and their families make better payment decisions through education and transparency. And it’s a true win-win for schools and families alike.”

Jonathan Razi, CardX President, remarked, “When we founded CardX, one of our ground-level goals was to improve on Higher Education’s limited set of choices in card acceptance. With that goal in mind, we’re very proud to launch our solution to the education marketplace with TMS. We couldn’t ask for better partners than the TMS team, who share our vision for student choice, convenience, and affordability.”

In April, TMS and CardX co-presented alongside MasterCard to more than 200 schools at the 30th National College & University Bursars SFS Conference. TMS and CardX laid out their vision for improving the service fee in a session entitled “Service Fees for Card Payments: Aligning Institutional and Student Interests.” Today’s launch achieves that vision.

[1] Data from a survey of 300 schools by (2014).