When students, faculty and staff log onto their GET portals after 9 a.m. this morning, they will find a lower minimum deposit requirement for their Bear Bucks accounts.
Following advocacy from the Undergraduate Council of Students, the University halved the minimum online GET deposit from $20 to $10. The change was spearheaded by UCS President William Zhou ’20 and Vice President Jason Carroll ’21, who began working on the initiative over the summer.
Any of the eight ValuePort machines across campus and the Cashier’s Office in Page-Robinson Hall still accept deposits as low as $1. But this did not necessarily help with accessibility, Zhou said, adding that “even though there are nine locations to deposit cash in any increment around campus, a lot of ATMs around only give out $20 bills, so it’s essentially the same problem.”
Students have consistently told UCS that the previous $20 minimum requirement was a financial barrier that made it difficult to afford common small expenses such as laundry and printing, Zhou and Carroll said.
After hearing student experiences and observing that 58 percent of all deposits made through GET over the last year were the $20 minimum, the University decided to lower the deposit requirement, said Elizabeth Gentry, assistant vice president of business and financial services.
A minimum deposit amount exists because the University is responsible for paying the fees associated with credit card transactions, Gentry said. Smaller dollar transactions are not as favorable to credit card companies, and as a result, there is a higher fee rate for them. The University is “willing to take on” the higher fees associated with the lower minimum deposit and will monitor the impacts of the change before considering lowering the requirement any further, Gentry said.
In UCS’ efforts to convince administration that reducing the deposit amount would be worth the additional costs, Carroll collected student experiences with GET. Carroll said one student told him that because of the minimum deposit amount, she often had to decide between spending $20 or going without clean clothing.
“For a lot of students, particularly students who are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, $20 can be a lot,” Carroll said. “If you look at the Brown minimum wage after tax, that would take three hours of working to be able to upload that $20.”
Zhou and Carroll ultimately met with Gentry and Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Barbara Chernow earlier this month to look over the data and rationale of the current system’s structure. Chernow did not respond to request for comment.
Both Zhou and Carroll expressed their gratitude for Chernow’s receptiveness and for students who shared their experiences.“It really wouldn’t have been possible so quickly, especially without student input on it,” Carroll said.
The GET minimum deposit reduction aligns with other projects UCS is pursuing this semester to improve student life, including discussions on free or subsidized laundry.
“For future missions and priorities, UCS always appreciates when students work with us to be able to help identify and then advocate to address these concerns,” Zhou said.