Charge plans help students short on cashBy

By Tricia Roegner

Don’t you just love the phrase “buy now, pay later?” NIU students especially love this phrase when it comes to buying needed supplies for the new semester.

Both the University Bookstore and the Village Commons Bookstore provide ways for students to “buy now, pay later” with their own different student charge plans. Both plans help students by giving them more time to buy needed supplies when their money supply is running short.

The University Bookstore has a charge system that can be used by registered students one week before and three weeks into the sememster. No actual charge card is ever issued, but a student can use his I.D. as a form of identification to buy books and supplies.

The student is billed 30 days after the date of sale in which to pay without interest. After 30 days, the Bursar’s Office will begin to incur 1.25 percent interest monthly on the student’s statement in which he will have to pay off.

University Bookstore Director Mitch Kielv feels there are may advantages to the university’s student charge system.

“One advantage from the student’s point of view is that they don’t have to worry about bringing a lot of cash with them and if they are short on cash, they can still be able to get their needed books and supplies,” Kielv said.

“Another advantage from the parents point of view is that they are being assured that their son/daughter are using the charge to pay for only books and supplies, and also the parents directly receive the bill on the same statement that tuition and housing costs are on,” he said.

Kielv noted there has been a definite increase in the number of students who used the system this semester. The system began last semester.

“Approximately 25 percent of our customers used the system last semester, and I would predict right now that the percentage has risen to 35 percent,” Kielv said. VCB General Manager Richard Boardman also has noticed more students charging supplies.

Michele McCauley, a sophomore political science major, said the univeristy charge system “proved to be a very convenient system for me because at the time I needed to buy the books, I didn’t have a job and, therefore, no money to pay for the books I needed. Now that I have got a job, I have the money to pay for the bill.”

VCB’s student charge system involves an actual charge card that can be used by the student all year round and on any piece of merchandise. It has an annual interest rate of 18 percent.

In order to receive a card, the student must show proof of some sort of job income or a parent’s signature for authorization.

One advantage of using the VCB card as opposed to the University Bookstore is “the VCB charge card allows the student to establish credit because in many cases, it usually is the student’s first charge card,” Boardman said.

Freshman Katie Ward, who has a VCB credit card, said, “It really helped me a lot over Christmas when I had a ton of Christmas presents to buy buy no cash.

“It also helped to buy anything else that I needed on short notice when I didn’t have the money on hand. It really is a good system that has helped me a lot.”