After many students experienced issues related to the campus’s Cancel for Non-Payment policy last fall, UC Berkeley administration has made efforts to assist students with the process for the spring 2017 semester.
According to the policy, students are required to pay at least 20 percent of their tuition charges by the Jan. 13 deadline or risk being dropped from classes. UC Berkeley introduced the policy to encourage students to pay their balances on time and finalize courses earlier on, but many students have complained that the measure is too drastic.
This semester, campus administration began alerting students about tuition dues two months ahead of the deadline in an attempt to help students be better prepared for the payment policy.
“For this spring, we wanted to make sure we communicated with students as early as possible, to give them a “heads-up” on spring dates,” said Adam Ratliff, communications manager for the Division of Student Affairs, in an email. “Our hope is this will help students plan proactively and reach out if they anticipate needing help.”
Students received alerts both through periodic emails and CalCentral. Additionally, the campus released a self-assessment tool that can help students determine whether they are still at risk for CNP.
Ratliff said financial aid began to disburse on Jan. 10 and would likely cover the minimum payment required. As a result, Ratliff said no students were anticipated to be at risk.
For students who may need additional assistance, spring 2017 emergency loan forms were made available on Jan. 10.
According to an email sent out to students, those who are dropped for not meeting the 20 percent tuition charge deadline can re-enroll the next day. Open seats in those classes, however, are not guaranteed.
But despite the campus’s efforts, the financial aid process has not been going smoothly for some students. With the deadline for payment approaching, students took to online forums seeking help after seeing no financial aid updates on CalCentral.
Students also expressed discontent with the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office’s lack of response to phone calls regarding the matter on Reddit.
Last semester, student complaints and negotiations with the ASUC led to UC Berkeley extending the deadline for payment. Some students expressed hope online for a similar extension this semester via Facebook and Reddit posts.
Campus junior Gabby Bozmarova said in an email that the financial aid disbursal process has been confusing this semester. Although her CalCentral balance is $0, she has not received any notification about whether or not her payments have gone through or when she will receive the rest of her aid, according to her email.
Bozmarova said she believed in other ways of motivating students to pay their bills on time, such as freezing bus passes or not allowing students to attend campus events, but that potentially dropping students from classes was not the best approach.
“I think there are efficient and effective ways of encouraging people to pay their bills on time. Although threatening to cancel classes may be one, it is not the only solution,” Bozmarova said in an email. “I am confused that the leadership of our educational institution does not understand what the impact of getting our classes dropped means to us.”