Wildcat Plus Plan Spurs $400,000 in Off-Campus Sales

Published 06.28.2004

Dining Services

Approaching the end of its first fiscal year, Pennsylvania College of Technology's Wildcat Plus Plan, which allows students and employees to pay for services both on and off campus by using their College ID cards, has been used for more than $700,000 in purchases.

Of that, more than $400,000 has been spent at the four off-campus businesses that contracted with the College to allow the use of the Wildcat Plus Plan at their establishments. To use their ID card for purchases, students and employees simply add $50 or more to their Wildcat Plus Plan account and then swipe their card like a debit card at participating businesses or on-campus facilities.

Sheetz, Wendy's, Burger King and 1100 West Cafe all near Penn College's main campus, participated during the program's inaugural year. Approximately 3,000 students used the plan.

"Those are phenomenal numbers for the first year," said Linda A. Sweely, director of Food Services, who pointed out that, since the program did not begin until mid-August, the numbers do not reflect a full year of usage. She also said that some of the on-campus services, such as card readers at residence-hall laundry facilities, were not put in place until January.

"More than likely, the number of users will increase this year," she said.

Sweely said she was contacted by personnel from Sheetz's corporate marketing department, who said that, while the gas station and convenience-store chain participates in similar programs through other colleges in Pennsylvania, including one at The Pennsylvania State University's main campus, Penn College's Wildcat Plus Plan has been the most successful for the merchant.

Sweely attributed the program's popularity to its flexibility. The students can use the card for gasoline purchases; books and supplies at the College Store; food on and off campus; and in campus copy machines, washing machines and food-vending machines.

"It's one account students know they can use at any time," said Amy Lingg, marketing assistant for Food Services.

By carrying their student ID card with them, students can make purchases, even if they don't have cash in their pockets, she said. Students can visit the College Web site to check account balances and view their transactions from the past six months, as well as to add money to their accounts. Funds stay in students' accounts carrying over from semester to semester until they graduate or do not return to school. At that time, any remaining balances are refunded.

Sweely said the program also benefits students because the participating stores provide services especially in the form of food when campus facilities are not open, including late-night hours, shortened summer hours and College breaks.

Among the four businesses, 50,000 transactions were made through the Wildcat Plus Plan. That's almost half of the 106,000 transactions made in all on-campus and off-campus facilities.

Sweely said that, when she reported the Wildcat Plus Plan's initial numbers at a recent conference, larger schools were surprised by the first-year program's success.

"I know the merchants are thrilled now, but they'll be even more thrilled next year," she said.

The first participants were contacted by Penn College because of their proximity to the school and a College stipulation that participants may not serve alcohol. Merchants who participate buy or lease card-reading equipment, which is similar to a credit-card reader, from Penn College. Sweely said the system is fairly easy to set up. In fact, the College's program was instituted in six months.

For more information about Food Services at Penn College, call (570) 327-4767, send e-mail or visit on the Web.