Northern Michigan University’s Human Resources Department will be eliminating paper checks and moving to VISA pay cards during the winter 2011 semester. Students will have the option to use the pay cards or switch to direct deposit.
Lindsey Butorac, payroll manager at NMU, said that the decision was made by Human Resources shortly after the Michigan Public Act No. 323 passed in December 2010, allowing Michigan employers to stop printing paper checks.
“We could’ve gone with this plan earlier, but we couldn’t have eliminated the paper checks,” Butorac said. “When the law changed, we decided to take this route.”
Global Cash Card was chosen as a vendor in October 2011. Depending on how long the implementation process takes, it is estimated that students and faculty without direct deposit will be provided with the pay cards in February or March of 2012.
The pay cards will be issued to any faculty and student employee that does not wish to have direct deposit. The cards will be stamped with the VISA logo, which then can be used at any bank or credit union that accepts VISA, Butorac said.
Like direct deposit, the money will be loaded onto the card during the morning of the pay day. Instead of having to pick checks up at Human Resources, students will immediately be able to access their paychecks on the pay cards.
While several banks and credit unions charge a small fee to cash a check if the student doesn’t have an account with that establishment, there will be no fee to pull money from the card once a pay period.
Michigan law requires that all employees have access to pay funds at least once a pay period. Any use of ATMs after that initial use per pay period may have user fees associated with it.
The card will work as a debit card, allowing students and faculty to use it to pay for purchases at stores and online shopping sites that accept VISA cards.
An online banking option will be available along with the ability to send a text message to the account for balance details. Smartphone applications have also been created to make the pay cards easier to use, Butorac said.
“It seems like a real win-win,” Butorac said. “We picked a vender that offers several perks.”
The only fee charged to the university for using Global Cash Card as a vendor is the shipping associated with mailing the cards to NMU, Butorac said.
NMU student Jackie Wiles, a digital cinema and theater double major chose to receive paper checks instead of direct deposit while working at The Forest Roberts Theater box office at NMU because of the distrust she had for computers.
“Computers can screw up someday and I’m worried that my checks will wind up in someone else’s account,” Wiles said.
Although she had not heard of the switch to pay cards, Wiles said that she can see both advantages and disadvantages to eliminating paper checks.
While no longer printing paychecks, Human Resources will be bettering the environment and student employees without direct deposit will no longer have to walk to Human Resources to pick up their checks.
However, the pay cards have similarities to direct deposit because the transactions will be computerized, Wiles said.
“Once again, the same trust issue comes up with using computers to add money onto the card,” Wiles said.
When given the option to use the VISA pay cards or direct deposit, Wiles said that she’ll most likely choose the pay cards.