Universities Refuse Tuition Fee Payment by Card, Netizens React


The controversy over high university tuition fees has been around for a long time, and was featured as a key presidential pledge during the last election. While the economy is entering what seems like a long-term recession, the struggle to get into higher education is greater than ever, a university degree being viewed as the minimum condition for a decent job.

On the other hand, universities have been given the autonomy by the government to set their tuition fees at the level they want, while being protected by the Private Institution Law to conceal what they do with the money. The amendment to this law, frequently mentioned in the comments below, aimed to improve transparency in university management, but was vetoed.
Meanwhile, the amendment to Specialized Credit Financial Business Act increased commission rates for card payment at large affiliate members, such as department stores and golf clubs, and lowered them for small members, such as small restaurants and supermarkets. As universities became included in the large affiliate members, the commissions they now have to pay for each card payment increased, leading them to refuse card payment of tuition fees. The article below delineates the effect of this move to the public who cannot use card installments to pay the fees amounting to millions of won.

From Yonhap News:

Disregarding the pain of the public, 78% of universities refuse credit card fee payments

While high tuition fees are criticised, universities earn more criticism by refusing card payment.

Due to conflict over commissions paid by the universities, the availability of credit card payments have become even smaller than last semester.

An average 8 out of 10 domestic universities are refusing tuition fee payments by card. This kindled criticism that universities are disregarding the difficulties of the public in preparing large sums of money, amidst the long-term recession.

On the 16th of January, credit card companies revealed that 101 universities out of 450 in total (22.4%) accept fee payments by card.

The proportion is lower than in second term of last year, when 108 universities made card payments available. This is because universities have to pay a higher commission rate (around 1.5~2.0%), due to the revised Specialized Credit Financial Business Act (SCFBA below) including universities in ‘large affiliate members’.

Some universities have withdrawn from the membership in order to avoid paying the expensive commission, relaying the burden to the public who have no control over the issue.

Most parents and students wish to pay the tuition fees by card, because they find it increasingly difficult to prepare sums of money amounting to 4~6 million won all at once. If paying by card, they can pay the amount in monthly installments for 3 to 12 months, which would lighten their economic burden.

The problem is that payments by card have not expanded at all, due to conflicts between card companies and universities; the card companies cannot give up their revenues from commissions and the universities do not mind receiving their fees in cash, instead of by card.

Universities can save billions of credit card commissions a year if all fees were paid in cash. Therefore they are ready to put up with criticism, disregarding any inconvenience their students have to face.

Card companies even formed a consultative group to persuade universities and expand card payment of fees. But their efforts led to nothing, as the revision of SCFBA raised the issue of higher commissions.

Last year, 12-months credit card installment payments were included as one of the methods of paying tuition fees, as part of the ‘revised bill about higher education.’ However, this bill foundered at the National Assembly; now there is little to hope for.

Such lack of cooperation is apparent among higher-ranking universities.

Korea University and Hanyang University do not accept credit card payment of their fees.

There are only 7 universities, including Seoul National University, Chungbuk, Andong, Mokpo and Gang-won, that accept fee payment by Shinhan card, which is leading the credit card industry.

There has been no increase this year, compared to the second term of last year, in the number of universities that accept payments by Hana SK (8 universities), Hyundai (5 universities), BC (37 universities) and Lotte cards (12 universities).

For Samsung card, there used to be 32 universities, but now there are 37 accepting it. For Kookmin card, there is also an increase from 39 to 45 universities accepting it. However there is hardly any increase in the benefit to parents, since the availabilities for different cards mostly overlap.

At least, Samsung and Kookmin cards offer various installment services to reduce the burden on students. Samsung card offers ‘Diet Installment Service’ when paying tuition fees. The ‘3-month Diet Installment Service’ is receiving positive response; if the user pays the first interest charge, they don’t have to pay the second and third.

Interest-free installment payment for 2 to 3 months is available with Kookmin cards after applying through their website. In 6-month installment payment, the interest charge is free except the first time.

‘Universities prefer receiving fees in cash, so don’t easily respond to offers by the card companies. It has become even harder to negotiate with the higher commission rate, now that we have a new system for the rates paid by our members,’ said a card company official.

A student protests against high tuition fees by wearing a mortarboard made with 10,000 won notes.

Comments from Nate:


They [universities] do stuff like that because they think about selling things to students. Do universities see new students as students on the first day of the term? Or do they see them as bunches of cash flowing in?


What really is the reason the Korea Foundation for the Promotion of Private School is left untouched?? Do we think it’s normal to pay hundreds of billions as tuition fees?? Is it normal to use tuition fees to invest in funds? Even small merchants accept card payment. Do we think it’s fair that universities refuse card payment, when they receive several millions per person?? Are they protected because of their relations to the Foundation? Is this the so-called ‘we are family’ spirit?? Bastards, tut tut tut.


Students these days are too obedient. In my old days, we took over the university president’s office if the university played that shit. What? Calling me a commie? And who’s paying my tuition fees? You?


I remember a joke made by a comedian who hosted our university festival. Watching the fireworks, he said ‘there goes your tuition fees burning off!!’


Do students get discounts when they pay in cash?? If the commission is as high as 1%, students paying in cash and those by card should pay different amounts.


The private institution law should have been amended….. [The ruling and opposing party] together agreed to autonomy in tuition fee pricing, but opposed the amendment with all their might…ha ha


While rather simplistic, the only way to reduce the university tuition fees is ‘not to go to universities.’ But it’s not an easy matter. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s because of the social atmosphere that treats someone as useless if they haven’t been to university. That’s the problem we have to solve. We need to make a society in which success is attainable without attending universities. Universities are subjected to the law of supply and demand. There is a large demand, so the suppliers can keep raising the price. If we don’t care about universities, the tuition fees will go down.


There are bastards who still blame the late former president Roh for this issue… Those bastards should look up who was actually holding candlelight rallies against amendments to the private institution law. ke ke ke


So this is why university students should vote. The only power the students have is voting power. That power you can use on politicians. The voting rate by people in their 20s was 65%, compared to 89.9% by those in their 50s… Do you feel the difference? The government looks down on people in their 20s. Vote! That’s how you exert your power and shortcut to changes in this country.


Miss Lady President Park promised to cut down tuition fees to half, so just wait a bit more~~


It’s already a contradiction to divide this fucking Korean education system into humanities course and industrial course, tut tut tut. Everyone thinks going to university is the only way to have a decent life later on, so everyone takes out loans to send their children to university. And everyone else sticks around to squeeze pocket money out of the children and make parents sweat. So there you go, this ridiculous educational system itself has created this shitty result, no surprises. tut tut tut


In a comment below someone said ‘shouldn’t the credit card user pay the commissions?’ but it’s only fair that the party who receives the money pays the commissions, while the card user pays annual membership fees.

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  • Yu Bum Suk

    Can’t they just use their credit card to make a cash advance and then pay with that?

    • x1sfg

      Because cash advances have higher interest rates, at least with my cards. I have paid zero interest in two decades on any one my cards as I paid in full every month, and I just used it to build credit.

      My, times have changed. I still remember when people paid tuition via dropbox or visiting the registrar with a check

  • Brett

    Credit card debt is a huge issue in Korea. Shouldn’t the government be against this too?

  • Brett

    I actually have an off topic question for whoever can answer it.

    When did Koreans start calling “Korea” “우리 나라”? Is it historical or post Japanese occupation or post Korean War?

    • Paul M

      I always thought it just meant “our country” but I may be missing some deeper meaning.

      • Brett

        It does mean “our country”, but it’s still strange to me. I want to know if it’s traditional or propaganda to make people have more national pride.

        • yellowgod

          Dont take it seriously. Its just korean tranditional. Korean use ‘our’ in everything.

          • Brett

            I just want to know the history of the phrase.

            Yes, they say “우리 엄마” and “우리 집”, but where did “우리 나라” come from?

          • chucky3176

            “Uri Omma”, “Uri Jip”, “Uri Nara”, “Uri Adeul”, “Uri Hkkyo”, “Uri Mal”, “Uri fill in the blank”. It came naturally, how can this be propaganda?

          • Brett

            Chucky, forgive me, I’m not trying to start controversy.

            I was genuinely interested in the history of the phrase. Yes, I gave my own input as to where I think the term came from, but that doesn’t mean I’m right.

            Please, correct me if I’m wrong.

            However, it sounds like you also don’t know the origins of the phrase. I just want to know if Koreans have traditionally called Korea “우니 나라” or if it is a respectively newish term.

    • chucky3176

      Ever since I can remember. But what’s wrong with the term “Our Country”?

      • Brett

        Not that there is anything wrong with it, but it just seems like it was a propaganda term, coined during harder days…

        It’s just strange to me because us westerners don’t call our respective countries “our country”.

        Anyways, I’m just interested in the origins of the term.

  • Ruaraidh

    On the tuition fee deadline date, every thief in Korea is going to be prowling around, looking for 18 year olds burdened with duffel bags and brief cases.

    • Brett

      Lol it sounds like that, but Koreans are always doing direct deposits. My wife even makes direct deposits to order insignificant amounts of groceries or a single toy for the baby…

    • Jang

      I’d think a smart Ajjumma would make the trip to the school herself to drop off the duffel bag full of money or her kid could just say he/she got robbed and then have some drinking money for the semester – he/she’d be the star on campus.

  • I agree with the universities and what others have said. They’re actually doing the families a favor by not accepting the cards which would actually increase how much they would have to pay for their children to go to school. Why can’t the families plan ahead and put some money away so they can then afford to pay the tuition fees when they’re due? And just another comment, I took out student loans from banks and the government when I went to school, which had pretty low interest rates compared to credit cards. Does Korea not offer any of these?

  • Paul M

    It truly is sickening to see this happen. Similar situation back in my native country too – Colleges and Universities run like private businesses rather than institutions of learning. An educated population is of great benefit to any country yet these days governments seem hell bent on making higher education a privilege to be enjoyed only by the wealthy.

    • chucky3176

      Do your colleges and universities also have half price tuition and free dorm accomodations for foreign students from Asia and Africa? S.Korean universities, especially the second and third level schools, are trying to fill their increasingly empty classrooms with foreign students through mass discounts. The Korean tax payers pick up the bill, so that these schools don’t end up closing.

      • Brett

        That’s not exactly true. Considering I work in the education field, try to hear me out.

        Most 2nd and 3rd tier colleges all form something called the “Lifelong Education Center”. What it is, is essentially a community college within a real college. They don’t have a quota for students like normal colleges.

        These colleges can accept as any student’s as are willing to pay the (much higher and even) exorbitant tuition fees. Most students are Korean and most students were originally not accepted into actual schools because of poor grades.

        They make up the majority of students filling the “educational gaps” you speak of. Not, the non-kKorean students.

        If tax payers were concerned, I’d be out of a job, but there is plenty of work here for me.

      • Paul M

        Yeah gaddamned foreigners coming to our country and taking advantage of the system while poor locals go without. /sarcasm. Seriously Chucky give it a fucking break!

  • Kate

    This seems awfully inconveneint, how much is a semester at a korean school typically? The university I went to was $20,000 a year, I couldn’t imagine getting a duffel bag with $20k and walking around with it. Can’t the students/parents direct deposit into the school’s account?

    • i think its a few thousand dollars per semester

  • commander

    On college tuition fees, what has remained unquestioned is: Is it worth paying for it despite the its enormous sum?
    In addition to a faster rising rate of tuition fees than that of price indices or wage levels, a more fundamental problem is that schools failed to convice students that the gigantic payment will produce corresponding results in students’ future: good prospects for a decent job.
    Then, why do colleges charge students so much fees? The reason is that others do so. Any improvements in their educational environment with increased revenue? A big no.
    In a contry where a vast majority of high school students go to colleges, few schools have turned down the temptation of raising fees following others without investing in improving education quality for students. In a nutshell, the demand outnumbering the supply making schools complacent in giving students impoved education.
    As a result, univerisites today produce students that need more time to prepare themselves to land jobs after their graduation. Longer periods of prepation for jobs often lead to competition for a higher grade point average in schools. The primary criteria by which students opt for courses is whether professors give hansome scores to students, not whether they are interested in courses.

    • Kate

      Yeah that’s pretty much the case in most countries. The USA has a 53% college grad unemployment rate and even more college grads in jobs that don’t require a degree to begin with (cashiers at wal mart or waiters). In my area there are literally hundreds and hundreds of unemployed teachers (when I applied for teaching positions last year, I was receiving emails from principals saying that they had over 500 applicants for ONE position). Its like that in many fields and these aren’t even great paying jobs. A teacher only makes $32000 yearly here but sadly that’s still better then many jobs which pay slightly higher then min wage. Now is this worth $40,000 in debt? No but what choice do young people have? Without a Degree gives you even less opportunity then a college grad who isn’t getting much opportunity for a career ether.

      Imo, colleges need to be held very accountable for over saturating fields with grads. Colleges do not have to tell prospective students the unemployment rate in their field or how many of the previous grads are actually working in the field they graduated in or even using their degree. They keep signing students up knowing damn well that there are too many people already in that field (like teachers). Couple over saturation with budget cuts, slow economy, mass unemployment in other fields, and next to no job creation and you get a very bad situation for everyone . Which is why many college grads are now on food stamps and welfare.

      I think colleges were once a great way to get a better standard of life but not now, now I think colleges are more and more a poor choice due to student debt and high unemployment and I think colleges are very greedy, raising tuition often but not justifying why they are worth it to begin with.

      Anyway I foresee many american grads going overseas to find jobs, although the teaching jobs will probably be harder to get if you aren’t qualified to teach (like they should be). I’m going back to Korea and if for some unforeseen reason I don’t get my visa into australia then I am planning on going to korean language school, learning hangul well enough to pass theTOPIK and get accepted into a Korean university (I want to go to Seoul National) and getting a MA in linguistics or esl and be a professor. I’m trying to get set up before it gets even worse for american grads.

      • commander

        You are right. A protracted global economic recession and the expansion of tetiary education with huge fees combine to spell a disaster: a trap of unemployment for grads in debt from student loans for college enrollment.

        The fact almost evey one has or have to have university has a university diploma, setting the stage for universities squeezing students for their finances without guiding students to be competent and uninterchangeable.

      • If you get a visa here, you wont find as much trouble in getting a job.

  • HaakonKL

    How much does a semester actually cost though?
    I assume it’s nothing like 500 or so NOK I pay here, but how bad could it possibly be?
    It’s not like they need to roll in with a wheelbarrow filled with cash or something anyway, right?

  • HaydenG

    Korean college tuition is too low. Its only 3000 dollars a semester. This is creating dangerous education inflation. The government needs to stop subsidizing it

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