UC Berkeley students relieved over suspension of cancel for nonpayment

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Despite UC Berkeley's suspension of the cancel for nonpayment policy for the fall semester, many students believe the policy should be eliminated permanently.

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While UC Berkeley students are relieved the cancel for nonpayment policy, or CNP, was suspended for the fall semester, many feel the campaign for its permanent elimination is not over.

Campus announced Thursday in an email that CNP would be suspended in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, under the policy, students who did not pay 20% of tuition by Aug. 21 would be dropped from classes.

In light of financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic, ASUC senators, led by ASUC Senator Julia Castro, called for the suspension of CNP, which received pushback since its implementation in 2016 because students thought it was unfair for disadvantaged, low-income students.

To avoid CNP, students at financial risk may have had to take out emergency loans, which worsens their financial situations, said ASUC Senator Apoorva Prakash. Even those not functionally affected by CNP experience can feel stress from the notification on CalCentral, especially if they do not know what it means.

In response to the suspension, many students said they were happy that no one will be punished for nonpayment due to the global pandemic, and said they think this is a positive step toward reducing stress in the student experience.

“As senators we do not truly have a lot of power to change financial decisions the university might make, however we do have a lot of influence and soft power on campus,” said ASUC Senator Mateo Torrico in an email. “This is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when the ASUC unites and fights for the needs of students.”

Prakash added that she thinks UC Berkeley should prioritize student needs over administrative challenges beyond the coming semester.

To do so, the ASUC and the campus’s Financial Aid and Scholarships Office have worked together to circulate a Wellness Impact Assessment in which students can input their testimonials. The goal is to present these numbers to campus officials to argue for the permanent abolition of CNP, according to Castro.

“Moving forward the university should consider eliminating the CNP policy all together, providing students with the autonomy and flexibility to pay tuition and fees when they feel financially prepared,” said ASUC Senator Aasim Yahya in an email. “This is about putting students first.”

Without the elimination of this policy, Castro’s backup plan is to ensure financial aid applicants have CNP waived every semester. Castro also said she aims to raise the amount out-of-state students can take out from copayable emergency loans so that it meets CNP’s 20% tuition requirement.

CNP is currently a policy at every UC campus, except for UC Santa Cruz, and Castro is concerned about other UC students who may be stressed about being dropped from classes.

“I don’t want to just abolish this permanently at UC Berkeley,” Castro said. “I also want to fight for other students at other UC campuses. Hopefully we can work with other ASUC officials at the other UCs and bring up and talk about this policy.”

Contact Catherine Hsu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @catherinehsuDC.