Why it costs $43 to reactivate Wildcat ID cards


Photo includes the logo written “WILDCAT CARD” on a student ID card. Photo taken Dec.13. by Hiroto Nakajima

Student ID cards are an overlooked but important item for university life. When a student loses their Wildcat ID card, it takes time and money to get a new one. In particular, for the students who live in university housing, it costs an additional fee to reactivate them, approximately $43. So why is it so expensive to replace Wildcat ID cards?

Many students use their student ID cards on a daily basis. According to the Wildcat Card Program, users take advantage of their Wildcat cards to open doors or dormitories at the university facilities, utilize library resource check-out and printing services and to purchase various items on campus.

Although a Wildcat ID card is useful, it is also small and easy to lose. When students lose their cards, it can prove to be an inconvenience. They temporarily can’t utilize several facilities and services. It is also impossible to use flex cash and meal plans at Sutter Dining Hall, until the card is reactivated. 

Basically, all students who do not live in university residences can get a card replacement by the next day, though the reception hours depend on when they come to the Wildcat ID Card office at Meriam Library. According to the card center, “Users who get a card replacement before 10 a.m., the card will be active by noon.” 

The office explained that, the users who come to the office between 10 a.m. and noon, will have activated cards by 2 p.m. Students who go in after 2 p.m. will have to wait until the next day. 

In general, when cards are not deactivated, they are either damaged or lost and the office considers all “lost and damaged cards are the same.” Thus, the office said that all users, except for faculty and staff, who come to the office for lost and damaged cards, have to pay a replacement fee — $2, which is billed to their Wildcat Funds.

For University Housing students, it not only takes more time, but also additional fees. Kelli Trnka, the Wildcat ID card pro-staff, said that their access depends on when University Housing can finish updating their new credentials in the database. According to the staff, “Generally UH students are told the card will not be active until the next day, but again they can use the card to purchase food the same way as normal.”

“For Housing students who come into the office and have lost their ID cards, we charge them $2 and then we notify the Housing Department,” Trnka said.

The staff stated the University Housing charges them $43 as a completely separate charge from the card office.

According to Corinne Knapp, the Interim Executive Director Housing and Administration, student ID cards are used as the access key to a student’s residence hall and room. Therefore, when University Housing students lose their ID cards, the Housing department needs to access multiple software systems to update information on the new cards and grant access with them.

“The $43 lost key charge is to recover some of the labor cost associated with this and also serves to discourage students from losing their access card,” Knapp said. 

The director said that the fee for a lost key or access card has not changed in over 10 years. Knapp also explained University Housing currently does not charge the fees for the students who have damaged cards.

Hiroto Nakajima can be reached at [email protected].