College Of The Holy Cross’ recently announced deal with a unit of Heartland Payments Systems Inc. not only will enable students to shop on or off campus using their school identification cards, but they also may use their cards to give back to the community through the processor’s Give Something Back program.

The Worchester, Mass.-based college announced the deal with Heartland Campus Solutions on Sept. 13 (see story). 

Students, faculty and staff now may use the Crusader OneCard, issued through Enid, Okla.-based Central National Bank, to make purchases at participating off-campus merchants such as local restaurants, grocery stores, and even an auto body and repair shop, Arthur Korandanis, Holy Cross director of auxiliary services, tells PaymentsSource. They also may use the card to access campus dorms, check out library books, pay for on-campus dining and buy books.

For this school year, Holly Cross distributed more than 4,000 cards to new and returning students, faculty and staff and had a “re-carding” event on Aug. 28 to present cardholders with the new card, Korandanis says.

Through the Give Something Back program, Heartland charges participating merchants 1.5% of the sale, and it either gives the funds back to the university or splits the money with the school and its students, depending on the university’s preference, Fred Emery, the processor’s vice president and general manager, tells PaymentsSource. Students also have the option to keep the returned money instead of donating it.

Merchants also pay transaction fees to Heartland that “may be as low as 10 cents, but varies based on the merchant,” Emery adds.

Additionally, cardholders may make larger donations or receive a higher amount of cash back if the participating merchant decides todouble the 1.5% donation or give discounts on purchases made using the card.

Heartland pays the school the funds it receives back from merchants quarterly. Students receive about 1% back on each purchase they make in real time with their Crusader OneCard. They may keep the funds or donate through Heartland’s program once the total reaches about $5 in cash back, Emery notes.

Participating merchants must use a specific VeriFone Holdings Inc. payment terminal to tie in to the Give Something Back program, says Korandanis, who was unable to specify the model.

Cardholders or their parents may reload their card accounts through a website Princeton, N.J.-based Heartland provides or at the school’s bursar’s office, either by check, cash, credit or debit cards. Students pay $2.50 per reload when using a credit card, and $250 is the maximum reload amount per credit card transaction, Emery says.

The maximum reload amount per day is $999, and cardholders may reload the card three times per day.

Cardholders also may withdraw cash from ATMs tied to the First Data Inc.’s Star or Discover Financial Services’ Pulse networks. Heartland charges cardholders $1 per withdrawal, and students also may pay a surcharge fee to the ATM owner, Emery says. Heartland does not supply specific ATMs for schools.

Holy Cross eventually plans to add Heartland’s Acceluraid financial-disbursement program, which enables cardholders to receive financial aid or other disbursements directly to their campus card account (see story). 

Off-campus card use is becoming a “core application” for many schools’ campus card programs, Robert Huber, campus card consultant for Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Robert Huber Associates, tells PaymentsSource.

At least 700 U.S. colleges and universities have an off-campus component, Huber says, predicting that within the next year at least 1,000 schools will have one.

Of the schools that enable their campus cards to be used off campus, the majority prefers not to tie the card to a payment network such as Visa Inc. or MasterCard Worldwide. That way the school “will have better control over where the students can use the card,” Huber says. This also helps reassure whoever deposits into the account that the funds will not be spent on liquor, he adds.

Merchants, however, still are likely to benefit regardless of whether the card is tied to a specific card company. Most are content to participate in a campus card program because “they can gain business from an untapped market, such as in-coming college freshmen,” Huber explains.

Additionally, to entice students to shop or to eat at a specific store or restaurant, many merchants offer students discounts if they use their campus card, such as 10% off any item or a free appetizer, Huber says.

No merchants are offering discounts to Holy Cross campus cardholders, but some are planning to offer perks eventually. “Several participating merchants have expressed interest in offering discounts, and the school’s student government is working to set something up,” Holy Cross’ Korandanis says.

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