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School’s out for grad students who can’t afford tuition

Robert Ogilvie is one of the five graduate students who have been deregistered from classes this term.

A regulation that deregisters students if they are unable to pay their tuition is now being enforced for graduate students.

“I knew I had tuition I owed them, but I was making biweekly payments. There was a bit of a gap for about … six weeks,” Ogilvie said.

For those six weeks Ogilvie was waiting to be placed on employment insurance after leaving his full-time job. Ogilvie said that he told financial services about this gap in advance and asked about payment options.

Ogilvie said that financial services responded by saying that they would need everything he owed upfront or he would be deregistered from his classes.

“In the past the norm seemed to be as long as there was a rhythm, there was a steady amount of payment. It was less concern what the overall amount was as long as they could see there was continued effort,” said Ogilvie.

Bruce MacDonald, acting dean of graduate studies, said that deregistering students who have not paid their fees has always been a regulation.

“I’ve just been acting dean since January of this year, so I presume that it’s always been in effect that if a student registers and doesn’t pay after a certain length of time that they would lose their services. It’s been consistent with the undergraduate policy,” he said.

MacDonald also said that so long as the deregistered student makes a payment plan with financial services, they’ll be put back into their classes right away.

“They’re not removed from the program, per se. They’re sort of put in limbo until they pay their fees. They don’t have to reapply or anything,” he said.

Cindy Flann, director of financial services, said that while this has always been a regulation, it has not always been enforced by the School of Graduate Studies.

“The graduate school hasn’t always deregistered students, but they’ve notified all the students lately that they’re going to start the process as per their regulations,” said Flann.

For Ogilvie, being deregistered only worsens his financial situation.

“The real problematic thing for me as a graduate student who’s involved in research is that I’m able to apply for and have access to a lot of potential funds through awards and things. But I need to be able to be a full-time student in order to receive these things,” said Ogilvie.

“It basically will mean that I can’t finish my graduate program.”

With files from Emma McPhee.

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