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The $coop on U Cards

by Emily Eshelman

Smile and say cheese, a blinding flash and a short later, your U Card prints in seconds. Nearly 6,000 U Cards are printed each year. New, lost, or broken cards are made in the U Card office every day. With more than 11,000 students enrolled and 1,500 faculty and staff, the university wants to make sure everyone has an identification card.

To open up space in students’ wallets and have one less thing to be responsible for, UMD encourages students to put money on their U Cards, but the question that arises, what is happening to all that money left on student U Cards?

Enrolled students get one complementary U Card.

“U Cards are not a requirement but we think you’ll find in order to function well on campus, you’ll need to have a U Card,�? explained Shawn Evenson, UMD’s U Card administrator.

Some students like the convenience.

“I would feel lost and confined if I ever lost my U-card,�? said Trisha Viau, a 5-year UMD student.

According to the the supervisor at the campus Dining Center, Tanya Levy, students are not allowed to even enter the dinning center without a U Card. In previous years students were able to use a driver’s license for identification, but beginning Spring Semester 2008, the policies have changed. Students will not be admitted into the dining center without their student ID. The dining center is not the only place where students need to show university identification. U Cards are slid for UMD store charges, food court payments, DTA bus pass, library checkout access, and entering recreational sports facilities. U Cards also show identification to receive any type of student discount at any local business.

Another function of the student U Card is “Campus Cash,�? a program which allows up to a $50 maximum amount to be used at any copy machine or parking pay lots equipped with a card reader. It is a program which allows you to put money on your U Card for the dining center in which food bought in the Kirby Plaza is tax free. One fact that students typically are not aware of is if you do not use your campus cash, you lose your campus cash.

“I usually lose a couple dollars a year, because in lab I have to pay for lost or broken equipment. It is the only way to make a payment,�? UMD biology Major, Robert Ship explained. “Let’s say you owe 6.39 for a broken beaker, but you only have 10 dollars with you, so you put the 10 dollars on your account and you are stuck with an extra $3.61 on your account you will never use.�?

After reviewing the U Card Campus Key pamphlet distributed to new students at orientation, information about the U Card funds being non-cash refundable is not mentioned in the pamphlet until the last page in significantly smaller print.

If you put money onto your account at the beginning of fall semester, it will transfer to spring semester. At the end of an academic school year all the money left on student U Cards belongs to the University. After reviewing the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Value Strip Account Summary from June 2006 until June 2008, the University reported more than $93,000 left on student U Cards. But where does all this money go?

According to Greg Sather, the Fiscal Officer in charge of UMD’s Accounting Records, the money goes directly to the service area in which it was originally was designated to. If you have dining dollars left on your student U Card, the money goes directly to Food Services. The records also show that last year the area that received the most money was ITSS with charges left from printing. The total was more than $6,000.

This is only taking into account the money left on U Cards, not the money it takes to replace lost, stolen, or damaged U Cards. Evenson also stated that to replace a student U card it costs $15. Student U Cards also have the life expectancy of four years if they are cared for properly.

“We give free protective cover slips to students whenever they replace or purchase a new card and students are able to stop buy to pick up replacement covers if needed free of charge.�?

U Cards should be stored in a warm dry area, away from any magnetic battery, including cell phones and MP3 players.

To learn more, stop in to the U Card office, located next to the TCF bank on the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Campus, 127 Kirby Plaza and they are more than happy to answer any of your questions, or call 218-726-8814.