MARQUETTE - Northern Michigan University is continuing on its quest for a greener campus by going paper-free when it comes to paychecks.
Beginning in the 2012 Winter semester, all NMU employees will have the option of either using direct deposit, in which their pay is transferred directly to a specified bank account, or using the university's new pay card system.
With this system, employees will receive a small plastic card, which can be used much like a debit card.
Paper paychecks at Northern Michigan University will become a thing of the past under a new policy. (Journal file photo)
Cindy Paavola, director of communications and marketing for NMU, said the university had to wait to switch to a pay card system until after the Michigan Legislature passed Bill 304, which allowed pay to be given out without the option of a paper check.
Paavola said the system also provides a way for employees to be paid even if the university is closed on payday, which can happen for several reasons, including inclement weather and emergency situations.
Take, for example, the shooting threat that shut down the university on Feb. 2 of this year. If the university had been shut down that Friday, employees without direct deposit would not have been able to receive their pay until the following Monday, which could cause some financial hardship for cash-strapped students.
"If something like that happens again, we can all be OK knowing we'll get paid (on time)," Paavola said.
Much like direct deposit, employees' pay will be deposited on their pay card each pay day, whether the university is open or not. Employees may then leave the money on the card and use it as a debit card, they may transfer the money to their own bank account or they can withdraw all the money off the card and keep the cash.
Though most banks and credit unions in the area will allow pay card users to withdraw funds from their card once per pay period with no transaction fees, more than one withdrawal could result in fees. However, all point of sale transactions will be fee free.
"There's many perks that come with this," Paavola said. "People can use a mobile banking app, there's online banking, you can send a text to find out your balance."
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans use 71 million tons of paper and paperboard every year. Though NMU going paperless with its pay may seem like just a drop in the bucket, every little bit counts.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.