Universities add services to student ID cards

It is almost like an algebraic equation as Florida State University and Florida A&M University work to “simplify” the lives of their students through identification cards. These cards are known as FSUCards and Rattler cards.

Both allow students to add cash to the cards in order to pay for snacks, books, photo and print copies, textbooks and dinner. But the debit feature of the cards is what is making a difference for students and businesses.

FAMU’s card department is working to make the Rattler card more efficient for student life on campus.

“The Purpose of FAMU’s One Card Program is to eliminate the need to carry cash on campus, which will promote campus safety,” said Helen Eason, coordinator and manager of the Rattler Card Office.

FAMU has offered students checking accounts since 1995. The Rattler card’s free checking account is offered by Capital City Bank.

After opening an account, students can shop at stores such as Wal-Mart, Winn-Dixie, Publix, CVS, Target, Walgreens and any businesses that have debit systems accepting logos such as STAR, PLUS and Publix PRESTO.

“Those are the main logos that everybody uses,” Eason said.Although some students at FAMU are aware of the option of debit on Rattler cards, some students say they do not use the service.

Paralee Massie-Armstrong, 21, said she has a checking account with Bank of America and does not use the Rattler card account.

“I have Bank of America, and there’s no point in me using two banks,” said Massie-Armstrong from Colorado Springs, Colo. “The only time people use (the Rattler card) is when they have a book voucher. Once, I had a meal plan on it.”

Eason said one of FAMU’s plans is to be able to place Rattler Cards online, such as print and vending services. The FSUCard already has online services. “Online” simply means the service is Web-based. Online would allow the card office to track accounts, close accounts and transfer money onto new cards if old ones are lost.

“We’re in the process of upgrading the system,” she said.

“We’re looking to simplify the campus life by allowing one card to be used for all activities.”

At FSU, the goal is the same.

“What we’re trying to do is simplify the process at FSU to make it an all in one FSUCard,” said Lee Creary, card office manager at FSU.

FSUCards serve as an intricate part of a student’s life on campus.

Creary said the FSUCard is used by students to get tickets and set up their Blackboard accounts. Blackboard is a community-based data system that contains information such as a student’s personal information, class schedules, syllabi and homework.

At FSU, cards are hosted by SunTrust bank and are available at a wide variety of businesses, including any business that accepts the logos of PLUS and INTERLINK. FSU also features a business every week.

“It gives them a little more edge,” Creary said. “They get more exposure and it’s free advertisement. The students like to find new places.”

Ally Johnson, a 19-year-old FSU student from Titusville, said she uses it mostly when she receives her net check. Johnson, a junior biology student, makes sure businesses use the FSUCards before she buys items.

She even uses the FSUCards at gas stations. “It is getting easier to use it around,” she said.

Big 10 Tire is one of the local business that accepts FSUCards and Rattler cards. Lee Wingfield, the store manager of Big 10 Tire on Tennessee Street, said FSU’s efforts are helpful for everyone.

“For students, their livelihood is that ID,” Wingfield said.

“There’s not a whole lot of shops that accept the cards so that’s where my business comes from, the student.”

He said the FSUCard center helps disperse coupons to students for Big 10 Tire.

Eason said as Rattler cards are transitioned to being online, FAMU will reach out to encourage businesses to get systems that accept the Rattler card.

“That’s what is in the works,” Eason said. “We will canvas those places.” She said eventually there will be more local businesses that will take the Rattler card.

“As they see more and more people making money, it’s word of mouth,” she said.