Cancel for nonpayment policy to carry over to spring semester

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UC Berkeley administrators announced in a campuswide email Monday key spring 2017 financial deadlines associated with the cancel for nonpayment policy, or CNP, a policy introduced in fall that was met with widespread criticism.

This semester, the policy requires that undergraduate students pay 20 percent of their tuition by Jan. 13, 2017 — four days before spring semester instruction begins — or be subject to enrollment cancellation. The payment deadline was extended by 11 days in the fall after hundreds of students expressed concern.

The policy was designed to discourage students from remaining enrolled in classes that they were not planning to attend, said campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff in an email. Ratliff added in the email that CNP also allows students to resolve their financial obligations before classes start so they can fully focus on their studies once instruction begins.

“For this spring, we wanted to make sure we communicate with students as early as possible, to give them a ‘heads-up’ on spring dates,” Ratliff said in the email. “Our hope is this will help students plan proactively and reach out if they anticipate needing help.”

This semester, campus representatives will be working to identify students who are potentially at-risk and will be continuously reaching out to assist them through various means such as email, phone and CalCentral, according to Ratliff. Students with extenuating circumstances may also be eligible for an exception from the policy.

Additionally, the majority of students who receive financial aid and are current in their payments will have at least 20 percent of their spring fees covered by their awards, according to the campuswide email.

Despite the changes made by the campus, Ismael Chamu, a campus junior and activist against the policy, said there will definitely be more protests and more mobilization against the policy in the spring semester. He said the policy targets low-income students who may need longer to pull together the money that they need for their tuition payment.

“It’s a monetary requirement and … there’s a strong sentiment on campus that education is a right and should be a right, and I feel like this is a direct opposition to that,” said campus junior and activist against the policy Rolando Gutierrez. “The university cares about securing the payment before delivering the education they’re supposed to offer.”

According to the campuswide email, any students who have their enrollment canceled because of the policy can re-enroll the day after being dropped, although the classes they had previously been enrolled in may at that point be full.

Students will be able to apply for emergency loans as of Jan. 10, 2017, and financial aid awards will become available to undergraduates by Jan. 13, 2017 — the same day that the first tuition payment is due.

“We’re paying so much money for this university and if we don’t feel satisfied as students we need to do something about that,” Chamu said. “End goal is to completely revoke this policy or do something different.”

Contact Semira Sherief at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @semsherief1.