By Jubenal Aguilar
Brookhaven College has been chosen to test a new payment system that will give students the option to pay for their printing needs using credit cards. The program, currently available only at Brookhaven, will also allow students to upload assignments from any computer to the campus’s student print system.
The service aims to give students a level of convenience not previously available. The beta test began in Dec. 2014, and will end in May 2015 to allow for a complete semester of testing.
Sarah Ferguson, executive dean of educational resources, said Brookhaven students can add funds to their Pay For Print accounts using any major credit card, a debit card or PayPal. The transactions will be processed through My Print Center, a credit card gateway. Students can still add funds to their accounts using cash from any of the seven Add Value Stations across the campus.
She said the gateway can also be accessed from any web browser and will allow students to handle everything related to their printing needs, including uploading or deleting documents, changing print settings and adding funds to their account. A desktop web browser or Android device is required to access all features.
Andrew Spencer, network and server support specialist, said not all features will be accessible from iOS devices due to the operating system’s complexity. However, iOS users can use their phone’s web browser to check their balance, delete files or change print settings. Spencer said an iOS app from Pharos Systems International, the district’s print solutions provider, is available, but has not been tested.
Ferguson said the idea of using credit cards to fund print accounts originated several years ago out of the need to provide a service to students. She said students would try to print, but were often without cash.
However, Pharos did not have the technology that would work with district processes at the time. “We’ve been waiting for several years for Pharos to develop a program that would work with district systems,” Ferguson said.
After a stable version of the Pharos Print Center program compatible with district processes was presented to Spencer, the decision to move into a public beta was made. Spencer said Brookhaven was chosen as the test site because of its desire and initiative to make the service available to students.
Using My Print Center, students can add between $1 and $20 per transaction to their print accounts. Transactions are processed using PayPal’s payment system and will incur a 30-cent fee, plus three percent per transaction. Transaction fees apply only when adding funds to an account. Ferguson said her staff is encouraging students to consider adding more than just a dollar to avoid being charged too much in transaction fees.
Students may still add cash funds through an Add Value Station without paying a fee.
Student Rosebella Peku said she prints assignments about twice a week but was not aware of the beta test. “I think it’s very convenient because a lot of times I come [to the library] and find that everybody is using the computers,” she said.
Using My Print Center, for example, Peku can send an assignment to her print queue from home and make a quick stop by a print station to retrieve the assignment without the need to access a computer.
Ferguson said she and staff from Brookhaven and the district office, including information technology, accounting, business office, lab staff and auxiliary services, have worked to make this project a reality. Those involved will meet to review the results and prepare a report for the district’s vice presidents of business services, who will make the final decision of whether the program will be expanded district-wide or discontinued after the trial period.
As of April 2, a total of 254 transactions have been completed. Ferguson said demand for the service will not be the only factor in considering whether the program is a success. “The fact that up to this point we have not had issues with the system speaks favorably,” she said.