With a down economy and the cost of tuition soaring at four-year institutions, community colleges are getting the nod from more and more students. And these colleges are looking to do more through the student ID card, says Jay Summerall, president and founder of CardSmith.
“In the past year or so we have seen more (community colleges) saying that they want to do more with their ID cards,” Summerall says. “They’re wanting to be more in line with what traditional campuses offer.”
CardSmith deployed its first community college system a couple of years ago, but it was at a two-year institution that had resident halls and other amenities that made it more like a traditional four-year school. Since then, however, the company has seen more requests from other types of community colleges.
The interest tends to start with print and copy applications in the library but then goes beyond that to the bookstore and even dining facilities, Summerall says. There may even be a financial aid aspect to the card.
To address the growing interest from community colleges, CardSmith developed a solution that enables a campus card system to be deployed in less than six weeks, Summerall says. The FastStart program is designed to make it easy for community colleges to deploy and add services to student IDs.
Many community colleges already have a card production system, but they don’t have a campus card system to enable applications on the card, Summerall says. “It’s new territory for them.”
To get FastStart going all CardSmith needs is a contact in the business or IT office, Summerall says. Depending on the systems and applications the community college wants to deploy, CardSmith may not even have to send out a technician as installation can be done remotely and training done via the Web and conference calls.
Even if new hardware needs to be installed the system can be deployed quickly, Summerall says. Community colleges traditionally have fewer vending machines and point-of-sale devices than four-year institutions.
CardSmith is waiving its set-up fee for community colleges and enabling the schools to roll the cost of new hardware into a semi-annual fee, Summerall says. The company is also offering a fixed-price guarantee for the first five years the program is in place. “We’re trying to help two-year schools go ahead and launch programs,” he says.