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Penn College goes off-campus, students spend $400k in under a year

Chris Corum   ||   Jun 24, 2004  ||   , ,

Penn College took their CBORD Odyssey PCS™ one-card system off campus at the request of their students, in hopes of increasing revenue and giving students more options. Known as the WildCat Plus Plan, students and employees have the ability to put funds into an account that may be used at various locations around town. Current partners in the program include Burger King, Wendy’s, a gas station/convenience store, and a sub shop. Merchants selling alcohol are prohibited from participating. Campus administrators describe the initial results simply as “amazing.”

Pennsylvania College of Technology, an affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University is known as Pennsylvania’s premier technical college. Penn College offers bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and certificate majors that combine hands-on experience with theory and management education.

Vendors participating in the WildCat Plus Plan pay a monthly fee and a transaction fee of around 5%, though specific terms are negotiated with each business. In the first year of the program, Penn College set up their contract with vendors as an annual contract, but they are now asking for three-year renewals. To opt out of the program vendors must give thirty days notice.

To market the off-campus program, Penn College has developed an informative website. Penn College partnered with JSA Technologies to launch a series of web pages that are specifically designed for students, faculty and staff to have easy access to their campus card accounts. The WildCat Plus Plan web pages allow cardholders to add funds to their account, check balances and track transaction histories. There is a listing of all off-campus vendors participating in the program including their address and any special terms for the location. Vendors advertise their participation with window decals, and the College distributes brochures to create awareness and to drive up account deposits.

Results have been strong to date. Students are using their ID card at these off-campus vendors, which benefits both the merchants and the College. According to Linda Sweely, Director of Foodservice, “our program has only been going since mid August and students have spent almost $400,000 with off-campus merchants…we are amazed.”

Penn College has seen deposits to the card program increase as students embrace the ability to take their card off-campus. “Sheetz (the gas station) is thrilled about the program and has significantly increased their gas sales and seen an additional increase in (food) sales between the hours of 1a.m. and 4a.m., times when the schools dining services are not open,” stated Ms. Sweely.

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