GV enters phase two of Cashless Campus Initiative


GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Jacob DeWeerd, Staff Reporter

Grand Valley State University is entering the second phase of its Cashless Campus initiative this semester. While the first phase of the initiative saw more than two dozen buildings go cashless, the second phase will see the Laker Market Place and Meadows ProShop cease all cash transactions in favor of credit card and tap-to-pay methods.

GVSU’s Business and Finance department started the Cashless Campus initiative to improve safety and increase security with transactions. Planning for the initiative began in early 2020 – before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic – and campus dining locations shifted to cashless payments earlier than planned as part of the pandemic response last year. 

The initiative is also supposed to improve the student experience of making purchases on campus, according to the cashless campus initiative webpage.  

According to an email from Budget and Finance office assistant Susan Genton, going cashless leads to decreased transaction times, reduced wait times in line and reduced contact between persons. Long lines at campus dining and other marketplaces were common areas of concern for health-conscious students last year when social distancing measures were implemented.

In addition to traditional credit cards, tap-to-pay methods work on all card readers on campus. They support Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Tap-And-Go, and credit cards with tap-to-pay features. Currently, the Student Services Center is experiencing issues accepting tap-to-pay and Google Pay, but the Business and Finance department said that is being worked on, according to Genton.

For students and guests without credit cards on campus, GVSU has installed three Cash to Card ATM kiosks that convert cash to prepaid cards. The kiosks are located in the Laker Market Place, the Kirkhof Center, and the DeVos Center in Building C. 

Regarding the small number of kiosks on campus, the Business and Finance department said “We will be evaluating the usage of the 3 kiosks throughout the Fall term to determine the appropriate number of kiosks on campus.”

Prepaid cards can be loaded with up to $500 at a time, and there are no fees to use each card on campus – except when paying balances on student accounts. That fee is being adjusted as part of phase two of the initiative, according to Genton. 

“Effective October 1, 2021, GVSU will be converting the current $20 flat fee for credit card transactions to a 1% fee on the total credit card transaction. This fee structure reflects a fair distribution of the cost-sharing of credit card transactions fees with the University for cardholders that take advantage of this convenient payment method,” Genton said. “Most higher education institutions pass the entire cost of this credit card fee to the customer but GVSU currently does not.”

The Cashless Campus initiative comes at a time when cash payments make up a small percentage of the total transactions on campus. All campus dining areas, which are some of the most popular places to spend money on campus, have already converted to a cashless format. Other areas like the Laker Store and the Meadows golf course have seen steady and stark declines in cash payments in recent years too, according to Genton.

“Over 80% of all transactions on campus are already digital,” Genton said. “At the Laker Store and Meadows, as an example, in 2016, 6.3% of transactions by value were in cash. By 2020, only 2.4% of transactions by value were in cash. Similarly, in  2015-16, only 1.2% of Student Accounts transactions by value were in cash. By 2020-21, only  0.33% of Student Accounts transactions by value were in cash.”

Once the initiative is complete, there will not be any areas left on campus that will still accept cash payments. However, athletic events where cash transactions are more common will not be going completely cashless all at once.

“GVSU will begin transitioning athletic events to cashless over the course of the Fall term, including athletic concessions. There will be a transition period where all forms of payment are accepted until conversion is complete,” Genton said.

The initiative is scheduled to be completed by December 2021. A project timeline and more information about the initiative can be found at www.gvsu.edu/busfin/cashless-campus-initiative-57.htm.