Case Study: UT Arlington’s 1-Card System Does It All

This Texas university has spent more than a decade adding functionality and upgrades to its one-card system. Now, students, staff and sponsored affiliates are issued ID cards that allow them to access appropriate buildings, make on- and off- campus purchases, and clock in and out of work.

On any given day, the typical college student might need to enter and exit his or her residence hall multiple times, purchase food from a campus vendor or check out research materials from the library. While all of these things could be accomplished by separate means – keys, a meal plan card or library card, respectively – this only provides more opportunities for the student to misplace these items and compromise security. A student meal plan card or residence hall key often have no identifying markers to prevent someone other than the cardholder from using them; a multipurpose identification card, however, can access all of these privileges and has a photograph of the student to which it belongs. Such cards can also be easily deactivated if misplaced by the cardholder, making a one-card system a viable solution to many university security concerns.  

One example of the successful implementation of this kind of solution is the University of Texas at Arlington’s one-card system. It is the cumulation of 15 years of updates and added functionality, resulting in a system that addresses the needs of students, faculty, staff and university guests. The magnetic stripe card, which works with CBORD’s CS Gold system, controls access to campus buildings, tracks meal plans, records time and attendance, and provides a ubiquitous form of identification on university grounds.

The multiuse system not only keeps students and university employees safe by restricting access to sensitive areas and university events; it also allows cardholders to take advantage of privileges such as meal plans and campus laundry facilities.  

Card Options Include Declining Balance and Debit

When determining what privileges to offer to its students, UT Arlington considered the makeup of its community and what services might appeal to its campus population. Factors such as the university’s urban setting influenced administrators’ choices when it came to making certain services available, says Director of Campus Card Operations Pascal Robert.

Through an agreement with Wells Fargo, students have the option of using their credentials exclusively as a declining balance card through UT Arlington or linking it to a bank account.  

“It makes it a pin-based debit card,” Robert explains. “And it’s optional  –  students don’t have to link their cards to an account. But all of our cards are made with proper ISO [numbers] so they are linkable if our students decide to do that.”


Students have access to two declining balance options on their cards through UT Arlington: Dining Dollars and Mav Money. Dining Dollars can be used to buy food from the university’s dining services and are only available with the purchase of a meal plan. On the other hand, “Mav Money”  –  named for UT Arlington’s mascot, the Maverick  –  can be used to make purchases in the university bookstore, wash clothes in the residence hall laundry facilities or to print or copy when a student or faculty member exceeds their quota for the semester. The university also opted to allow non-campus-affiliated vendors to accept Mav Money. This lets students access a wider array of services with their cards, both on and off campus.

The university uses CS Gold to manage most card-related privileges. The application is highly customizable and operates on a Windows-based graphical user interface with optional Web-based features for reporting, patron look-ups, access assignments and more. On-campus purchases using Mav Money and Dining Dollars are made using the MICROS 9700 HMS point-of-sale system.

“[MICROS] is a CBORD partner so it all integrates with our CS Gold system,” says Robert. “We also use some of CBORD’s older terminals such as the Turbo reader. We utilize both of these for point of sale and the Turbo is also used to manage privileges such as school elections, meal plans and activities.”

System Tracks Employee Time and Attendance

UT Arlington uses Commeg Systems Inc.‘s TimePro, which interfaces with CS Gold, to manage time and attendance on campus. Turbo readers and PC-based virtual clock user interfaces allow employees to clock in and out. The system also provides automated time and attendance tracking.

“We offer our time and attendance service across the board, to whomever wants to use it,” says Robert. “Here in the office, all of our student workers clock in and clock out using our time and attendance function. There are other areas, like facilities management, where it’s very popular.”

Most field employees using TimePro need university ID cards to interact with the system. These cards differ in appearance between students, university staff and outside contractors so that campus security can better identify the personnel on university grounds. Cards are full color on the front, and black and white on the back with a security overlay and magnetic strip. Each card has the cardholder’s photograph on the front.

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