In a given quarter, 1,500 to 2,000 UC Davis students do not pay their fees on time. Beginning in the fall, those students will be in for a rude surprise when the fee payment deadline passes.
Traditionally, students could pay their fees as late as ten days into the quarter without being dropped from their classes and were just assessed a $50 late fee. But beginning in the fall, students who fail to pay their fees by the deadline will be dropped from their classes.
The existing system is unfair to students who pay their fees on time and prevents students from moving from the waitlists and into classes, said Barbara Noble, senior associate registrar.
Under the current policy, students who do not pay their fees on time and decide to withdraw up to ten days into the quarter can get away without paying any fees. However, students who pay their fees on time but have to withdraw from the quarter can typically only receive 50 percent of their fees back, even if their withdrawal is due to unforeseen circumstances, Noble said.
As a result, Noble, who was charged with finding inefficiencies in the Registrar’s office when she joined the campus in 2007, decided to change the policy.
“The student who didn’t pay fees, who we dropped on the tenth day, wiped away all their fees and owed the university nothing except the late fee,” Noble said. “I had a hard time with that; it didn’t seem equitable at all.”
Students who do not pay their fees also block students on the waitlists from enrolling in classes. By the time the university removes delinquent students from classes, the quarter is already in its third week, Noble said.
Beginning this fall, following the fee deadline, there will be a two-day registration freeze on SISWeb. At the end of that period, students on waitlists will automatically replace students who failed to pay their fees.
“What good did it do when new student couldn’t be added in until the third week of the term? Students who had paid by the fee payment deadline weren’t really getting seats that they were entitled to,” Noble said.
Noble said she consulted various groups on campus, including the Undergraduate Advising Council, which has an ASUCD representative. The new policy, which will immediately drop delinquent students after the deadline, was the result of the discussions.
The primary motivation of the new policy is fairness, not profit, Noble said. The change is expected to be “a wash” fiscally, she said.
With fees increasing 9.3 percent next year – or $662 annually – meeting the payment deadline may be more difficult for some students. However, there are a couple methods to mitigate the fee increase and meet the deadline.
Students can opt to enroll in the Deferred Payment Plan, offered by Student Accounting. The plan allows students to make their quarterly payments in three installments, or one per month. The program has a $25 enrollment fee per quarter or $60 fee per year. Anyone is eligible to join.
Though just approximately 650 students participated in the program this academic year, participation in the program has been climbing since it was implemented 10 years ago, said Eben Sutton, associate accounting officer at Student Accounting.
“Over the last five years, we’ve definitely seen growth, as enrollment tends to go up about 10 percent per year,” he said.
If students are in dire need of funding, they can go to the financial aid office and get emergency or short-term loans. Though all students are eligible, the loans are typically due within the quarter.
“There would definitely have to be a plan for how students would repay the [emergency] loans,” said Katy Maloney, interim financial aid director.
Students who walk into the financial aid office can usually get up to $300 in emergency loans on the same day, Maloney said. But that amount is not enough to cover quarterly fees, which will increase to $3,123 in the fall.
Maloney emphasized that students need to plan ahead and not apply for aid the day of the fee payment deadline, as that may be too late to avoid being dropped.
With careful planning, the new fee payment policy should not be a problem, Sutton said.
“Students need to plan ahead, and if they can’t pay ahead, we’ll help them,” Sutton said. “Let us know far enough ahead of the fee deadline.”
PATRICK McCARTNEY can be reached at email@example.com.