A-loan in the dark.

Author:Chen, Elizabeth

It is 6:59 a.m. on Saturday morning, and you have been sleepily staring at your course registration screen for what seems like hours, with your mouse carefully hovering over the "register" button. Registration starts at 7:00 a.m. and, let's be honest, university students are essentially vultures when it comes to signing up for classes. The clock changes to 7:00 a.m. and you click with anticipation.

"You may not register for classes due to a hold on your account."

And out comes that huff and puff of frustration. How did this happen?

Sometimes, it's due to unpaid tuition or other large fees that are hard to miss. However, it is usually due to small, inconspicuous fines that accumulate on your record.

Remember that unpaid parking ticket that you never bothered to pay off because you didn't believe the university would actually tow your car? That's a hold.

Or, remember that library book you returned two days late and never bothered to pay off the $2.09 overdue fee? That's a hold.

Not registering for a class right on time is a small issue, when you compare it to Amitpal's situation.

Amitpal worked hard through his four years of undergraduate studies, but he ended up having this conversation with his parents:

"Where's your degree?"

"...Oh, I forgot to pay a parking ticket, so I missed the convocation date this year."

It seems silly, that forgetting to pay a fine or an unpaid parking ticket would lead to delayed convocation. Yet, it happens so often, that many Canadian universities have written it into their policies (yes, you should read that).

Can the university do that? Some may not have the authority to tow your car, depending on the province that you are in, but many Canadian universities will find a way to enforce fines and penalties through their policies.

For example, in the 2009 case of Barbour v UBC, Justice Goepel ruled that the University did not have the power to charge or collect Parking Regulation fines.[1] However, shortly after, the B.C. government passed a retroactive law that permitted UBC to issue and collect the fines.

Students must therefore be very careful in paying their fees and fines in full to avoid missing registration, convocation, and having their grades withheld.

For students who are from out of province and have to organize on-campus or off-campus housing for the first time, dealing with rent and rental agreements can be very confusing.

Take Bea, for example. As an out-of-province student going into her first year...

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