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UMass let Tsarnaev carry $20,000 balance

Amid revelations that alleged Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was attending UMass Dartmouth despite an outstanding bill of more than $20,000, the college said that students can remain enrolled without full payment if loans and financial aid are expected to come through.

A university spokesman declined to discuss the Tsarnaev situation in particular, citing federal privacy law. But he said students in certain circumstances may continue their classes with significant bills for tuition and room and board.

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“A student who has an outstanding bill in general would still be allowed to register if they can document extenuating circumstances,” said John Hoey, the university’s assistant chancellor for public affairs. “We monitor it throughout the year.”

An unpaid balance of $20,000, however, is unusual, Hoey said. “Most balances are relatively low,” he said.

Delays in loan and financial aid distributions are the most typical reasons for an unpaid balance. Tsarnaev, a sophomore, may have told college officials he expected to receive the same financial aid package as his first year on campus.

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For in-state students, UMass Dartmouth costs about $22,000 a year, including room and board.

Students facing financial difficulty are given the option to make smaller monthly payments, Hoey added.

He said that if loans or grants fail to materialize, the college would not allow a student to register for the next term.

University officials would not confirm that Tsarnaev owed the college $20,000, but several people briefed on his college record said the figure was accurate.

The accusations against Tsarnaev has prompted administrators to take a “hard look” at his time on campus, Hoey said.

Citing privacy laws, the university would not confirm a New York Times report that Tsarnaev had failed seven classes over three semesters in 2012 and 2013, or comment on whether he had been received any type of academic discipline.

Under university policy, any undergraduate who has a cumulative grade point average below 2.0 after two semesters will be placed on academic probation. Students on probation for two straight semesters will be subject to dismissal.

Peter Schworm can be reached at pschworm@globe.com
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