Students, administrators weigh in on Stanford Card Plan

April 27, 2010, 1:03 a.m.

Seven months after the University rolled out a new Stanford Card Plan, students and administrators are evaluating the plan’s usefulness to those looking to cover money for books before financial aid arrives or simply to print from cluster computers.

Debuting in September 2009, the Stanford Card Plan allows students to charge up to $1,000 at on-campus venues, including the Stanford Bookstore, residential dining halls, the CoHo, the Treehouse and Tresidder Express. The charges are added to students’ University bills.

According to Kelly Takahashi, a manager at the Student Services Center, 7,892 students are enrolled in the Card Plan. The average student uses $56; 86 percent of students use less than $500. Only eight students have used more than $900.

Students have the option to spend any amount, from $0 to $1,000. However, if students choose to use the plan, they must sign up for a credit line of exactly $1,000.

Takahashi said the plan is not designed for profit, but rather to help students cover payments before financial aid money is made available each quarter.

“The University is not making any money from the Stanford Card Plan,” Takahashi wrote in an e-mail to The Daily. “The plan was implemented to accommodate students’ need for funds for academic-related purchases prior to the disbursement of their financial aid.”

Enrollment in the Card Plan has also increased over time, according to Takahashi. Since the plan seems to be “well-received,” she said, the plan will continue next year.

Modifications have been made since its launch, allowing students to view the remaining balance of their Card Plan in Axess through the Student Center tab.

“While additional enhancements are not currently in the pipeline, we will continue to improve the service as needed,” Takahashi said.

From September 1, 2009 to February 28, 2010, about 61 percent of transactions were at the bookstore, according to Takahashi. Twelve percent of purchases were in dining halls, while six percent were for printing from Residential Computing. The remaining 16 percent of purchases were at the CoHo, Treehouse, Tresidder Express and engineering printers.

Stanford Bookstore director David Gough said many students do use the Card Plan, but this usage does not impact the bookstore in a significant way.

“It’s just another convenience option,” Gough said.

One student questioned the utility of the card service.

Eric Yurko ’13 said the plan would “tempt” him into spending his parents’ money rather than his own, explaining that he uses his debit card first. Yurko therefore decided against registering for the Stanford Card Plan.

“If I feel like my parents should pay for it, I tell them about it,” Yurko said. “I don’t really see the point of Stanford allowing me to tack another $1,000 onto a bill that they can charge late fees for, rather than me directly taking the money from my account.”

Another student, Siobhan McCabe ’11, who did sign up for the plan, said she only uses it for printing.

“It’s convenient because I can print in my dorm,” McCabe said. “But other than that, I don’t see the point.”

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