PROVO — Brigham Young University deleted the classes of 81 students last month because they didn't pay tuition on time.
BYU allowed 16 to return to class after they worked out arrangements. University spokeswoman Carri P. Jenkins said the university believes most of the other 65 never actually came to campus this fall.
Jenkins said the toughened tuition-deadline policy this fall was designed to help students.
"In the past," she said, "we had students come who weren't financially prepared and put in a tremendous amount of work and then had to drop out" because they never could pay tuition, a point BYU made in a press release explaining the new policy in February.
Also, an average of 6,000 students had been paying tuition late each school year. Most were paying a $90 late fee. "We didn't want our students spending their money on late fees," Jenkins said.
BYU blitzed its 30,000 students with information about the new, stricter deadline. The university announced in February that tuition would be due a week before school started instead of on the second day of classes.
The university sent 45,000 postcards to parents and students. The students received multiple e-mails, plus notices every time they opened their financial account on BYU's Web site.
Students who did not pay tuition by the initial deadline, Aug. 24, received several additional reminders, and posters on campus blared: "WARNING. Don't risk having your classes deleted! Tuition must be paid by Sept. 18."
More than 100 students had not paid tuition by the Sept. 18 final deadline. BYU Financial Services called all students who hadn't paid by Sept. 21 to alert them their classes would be dropped if they didn't pay by the following Monday.
BYU made short-term loans available to help students meet the deadline, Jenkins said.
On Sept. 24, BYU dropped the classes of the 81 students who had failed to pay.
"The reason we think many of the 65 aren't here is because we tried every way to reach them and couldn't," Jenkins said. "We went to the extra effort because this is a new policy."
Nursing major Tawny Thomas appreciated the postcard reminder she got from BYU last spring.
"It was nice to receive that so far in advance," said Thomas said, a senior from American Fork, "but at the same time a lot of us forgot about it."
Thomas said the university could have advertised the new, earlier deadline even more, but she didn't know of any students who had trouble making the payment earlier.
"Nursing students are kind of meticulous, so it's not a problem for the circle of people I interact with in my major," she said.
Thomas said the 65 people who either didn't come to campus or couldn't raise their tuition in time unfortunately took spots that could have been available to students not accepted into BYU.
"That's a little frustrating," Thomas said.