LB considers new credit card plan to simplify textbook purchases

By Tressa Versteeg

The Academic Affairs Commission hopes to simplify the process of purchasing textbooks with a new proposal placed before the legislative body that would convert Macalester identification cards into credit cards. The credit card would alleviate cash flow dilemmas that some students experience when buying textbooks, and could also be used at locations campus wide.

Major credit cards currently accepted could still be used, but the Macalester ID will have a lower interest rate, probably around eight percent, according to Alison Tray ’09, chair of the Academic Affairs Commission.

The credit limit is still to be determined, but could be set be around $300 to $400, Tray said. This credit bill would be added to the student’s tuition statement and would need to be paid by a deadline that will probably coincide with the dates of registration or validation, though details are still to be decided.

Mathematics professor Daniel Kaplan who initiated the proposal agreed that students often have financial difficulties when it comes to textbook buying.

“Already the college adds a credit to financial aid to cover the cost of textbooks,” Kaplan said. “But most students don’t realize this. By and large I think that students don’t put aside this financial aid money to pay for textbooks, and so the textbook costs come out of their pocket.

“Many students come to school without the money in hand to buy their textbooks. So they end up scrounging and, according to the survey conducted by the student government, often not getting good access to their books. The main point of the plan is to make it easier for students to get their books.”

A point of sale system, which helps vendors keep track of what has been purchased, would have to be installed around campus in order to track the items sold, although Tray said the system needs to be installed anyways.

The Academic Affairs Commission plans to propose the credit card system to the legislative body in the next few weeks. The administration will move the plan forward if it gains support from the student body and legislative body.

Tray said she supports the system fully and believes it will help students get their textbooks quicker, removing the need for immediate cash.

“I really think that this system would benefit a lot of people,” she said, “and although it may just be a baby step in the right direction, I think it’s an important progression.