Post Classifieds

Student fee fund operation of ID card debit system

By David Floyd
On April 6, 2014

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ETSU's ID debit system is administered through a contract between the university and Aramark Education Services. The system allows students to pay for amenities like food, books and laundry using money stored on their ID cards.
"The card enables us to do several things on campus," said Charles Forrester, director of ETSU ID services. "The barcode on the front is used for our library system and many of our dorms' laundry machines can be operated using ID Bucs. But campus food service was one of the driving forces for changing to an electronic card system."
Aramark holds the exclusive contract for all ETSU food services. In order to provide campuswide dining, Aramark paid the university to implement an encrypted card system. The company also provided about $2.3 million for the renovation of on-campus food service facilities and requested that ETSU install several cash registers.
Aramark funds the maintenance of all commercial equipment and hire all food service employees.
As such, the maintenance of Aramark equipment is not funded by student tuition and fees.
Payment to ETSU comes in the form of an annual commission and is calculated as a percentage of gross revenue. For example, 25 percent of the money made by concession stands goes to the university.
This is a standard practice for all on-campus businesses.
"All of ETSU's auxiliary services, including the campus bookstore, vending machines and food facilities, pay the university a percentage of their sales,"  Forrester said.
Part of this revenue goes directly into the university's operating fund, helping to keep tuition at a reasonable level.
Meals bought using a meal plan or advantage dollars do not include sales tax.
"If you're buying a resident advantage plan and a meal plan, there's a loophole in the tax program that provides tax exempt status to someone who purchases a package from a tax exempt institution [like ETSU],"  Forrester said.
The ID office's budget is partially funded by a $10 fee that is incorporated into the program service fee all students pay.
"Including the salaries for employees, equipment for the department and general maintenance, the ID system requires a significant amount of money,"  Forrester said. "It's probably a million dollar system."

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