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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Feb. 9, 2007

Is your ISU Card working for you?

by Anne Krapfl

You know it's not possible to check out materials from Parks Library without it, and you also may have used it to get government employee hotel rates when you're on the road for work. But do you know about other ways your ISU Card can work for you? Inside talked with Jody Pietz, manager of the ISU Card office, to learn more about the ways ISU employees can use their cards -- if they choose to.

The ISU Card celebrates its 11th birthday this spring. The cards were introduced in April 1996, primarily as a replacement card for the university's previous photo ID. Pietz, who worked in banking before taking her job 11 years ago, was brought in to implement and manage all the features on the new card's magnetic strip.

ID Card

The ISU Card, despite its bells and whistles, remains a valid photo ID card. In addition to giving you library privileges, it can get you privileges in the athletics department, such as an employee discount on season football and basketball tickets or occasional free "employee" admission to other sports contests.

ISU card

Membership at the Lied Recreation Athletic Center requires faculty and staff to use their ISU Card. Photo by Bob Elbert.

Campus recreation

Faculty and staff need an ISU Card to purchase semester fitness classes or Lied Center access card, or to rent a locker. Online purchases are not yet an option, so take your ISU Card to the Recreation Services office in either the Lied Center or State Gym to complete this (you subsequently will swipe your ISU Card in a card reader for facility access). Your card also lets you reserve and rent equipment and book excursions through the outdoor recreation program in State Gym. You may pay your Recreation Services bill with cash, check, credit card or through payroll deduction.


If you have a savings or checking account at any bank, you may transfer up to $250 from your account to your CyCash account. This money transfer can be done online via AccessPlus (click on "Employee," then "CyCash," then "Add Value-Bank Account"). You also may activate your CyCash account by charging up to $50 to your university bill via AccessPlus. The dollar limits are intended to protect clients against great losses if a card is lost or stolen.

Funds in a CyCash account are like cash to be used for a variety of campus purchases from vending machines and copiers with card readers, ISU copy centers, University and Campus bookstores, MU food court, ISU Dining C-stores and cafés, and the Tearoom in MacKay Hall.

Pietz said other uses have been investigated on campus, for example, recreation in the MU or concessions at Hilton or the football stadium. Ultimately, it's up to units to pay for the cost of implementation -- online connections and card readers, primarily -- and for some, the cost recovery just isn't present yet, she said.

Pietz also said Iowa State officials made the decision to keep ISU Card use on campus. Some universities extend use of their debit-like cards to local businesses, she said.

"The card is meant to provide convenience on campus. We respect the town-gown relationship and we don't want to be viewed as competing with Ames businesses."

ISU Dining charge plan

Faculty and staff may use their ISU Card to charge meals in any of the three residential dining centers, or purchases in any ISU Dining café or C-store and the MU food court. One distinction between CyCash and the dining charge plan is that you receive a 10 percent discount on meals in a dining center when you charge it to your dining charge plan.

The sole option for paying for these charges is through payroll deduction. The charges are tallied on the first day of each month and appear on your monthly accounts receivable statement (available online via AccessPlus).


The ISU Card isn't just a photo ID. Faculty and staff can use it for campus-wide benefits, from lunch to fitness classes.