Oct 15, 2019  
2019 - 2020 Catalog 
    
2019 - 2020 Catalog

Academic Life: General Policies


The following policies apply to both graduate and undergraduate students.

Adds, Drops, and Withdrawal Policies

Changes of Schedule

Once a student’s class schedule has been approved, changes are to be submitted on a drop/add form available online at my.umary.edu or from the Office of the Registrar. All manual registrations, adds, or drops performed by the Office of the Registrar need the approval of both the academic advisor and student.

Adding a course after the add/drop deadline: No courses may be added after the published add/drop date for the course without the approval of the instructor. A $50 per-course late fee may be assessed if a course is added after the eighth instructional day.

Drops and Withdrawals

Dropping a course: Courses will not be recorded on the academic record if the class is dropped before the published add/drop date for the course. 

Withdrawing from a course:

After the add/drop deadline, students must withdraw from a course to remove it from their schedule. Since credit is not received for withdrawals, the student’s grade point average is not affected. However, course withdrawals will count as credits attempted but not earned, affecting a student’s Satisfactory Academic Progress standing. 

A student who withdraws from a course before two weeks after mid-term will have the course recorded on the permanent transcript with a grade of “W” and will be charged for that course on a pro-rated basis. A student who elects to withdraw from a course after this period will receive a grade of “WP” or “WF” as determined by the instructor. Official add/drop/withdrawal dates for each term are available on www.umary.edu/registrar.

Withdraws may have an impact on financial aid (see the Financial Aid  section for more details), and students must pay tuition for courses from which they withdraw in accordance with the policies of the Student Accounts Office. 

Administrative Drop Policy

An administrative drop is a drop approved by the Office of Academic Affairs after the add/drop deadline for a course has passed, allowing a student to exit the course without a notation on his/her transcript and without having to pay for the course. A student may be administratively dropped from a class for the following reasons:

  1. Excessive absences as defined in the Excessive Absence Policy
  2. A personal emergency or emergency in the student’s immediate family that significantly impacts a student’s ability complete the class or that has had a detrimental impact on a student’s financial standing. For purposes of this policy, immediate family includes parents, children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and spouse

An advisor, the instructor of record, or a UMary administrator may request an administrative drop by:

  1. Completing an Administrative Drop/Withdrawal Form
  2. Submitting it to the Office of Academic Affairs
  3. Attaching documentation demonstrating the need for the administrative drop
  4. Requiring the student to sign a statement that s/he understands the impact of the administrative drop on financial aid, athletic eligibility, and housing (as applicable)

The Office of Academic Affairs, in conjunction with the Office of Financial Aid, shall make a final determination of whether or not the criteria contained in this policy have been satisfied. The Office of Academic Affairs will notify the requestor of this decision and submit the approved or unapproved Administrative Drop/Withdrawal Form to the Office of the Registrar for processing.

Academic Credit Policies

Credits Needed Semesterly for Timely Completion

Credit for academic work is based on a semester system. An average of 16 credits needs to be earned each semester if a student is to complete his or her undergraduate degree in eight semesters. For graduate programs, the program length varies by individual program.

Progress Toward a Degree

Students must demonstrate progress toward a degree by completing at least 67% of all attempted credits and maintaining minimum GPA requirements in accordance with the satisfactory academic progress policy. The grades W, F, and I are considered “attempted” and will be considered as unsuccessful completion when determining if a student has maintained this standard.

Students may take no more than 150% of the allowed credits toward any given degree. For example, a student enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program must obtain his or her first bachelor’s degree within 192 credits.

Credit Hour Definition

To determine course credit hours, the University of Mary uses the Higher Education Act’s definition of credit hour (adopted July 1, 2011), which is as follows:

  • For a semester hour, a credit hour must approximate not less than one hour of classroom and two hours out-of-class student work each week in approximately a 15-week semester or trimester
  • At least the equivalent work as a semester hour for other academic activities, e.g., lab work, internships, practicum, studio work, and other academic work

For a Term/Semester of 15 weeks:

Semester Credits

Minimum Direct Instructional Hours

Minimum Outside Work Hours

Total Hours

2.0

30

60

90

3.0

45

90

135

4.0

60

120

180

For length of class per week:

Credits

5-Week Course

7-Week Course

8-Week Course

10-Week Course

15-Week Course[1]

 

Inst Hrs/Wk

Outside Wrk/Wk

Inst Hrs/Wk

Outside Wrk/Wk

Inst Hrs/Wk

Outside Wrk/Wk

Inst Hrs/Wk

Outside Wrk/Wk

Inst Hr/Wk

Outside Wrk/Wk

1.0

 

3

6

2 hrs 10 mins

4 hrs 20 mins

1 hr 55 mins

3 hrs 45 mins

1 hr 30 mins

3

1

2

2.0

6

12

4 hrs 20 mins

8 hrs 35 mins

3 hrs 45 mins

7 hrs 30 mins

3

6

2

4

3.0

9

18

6 hrs 30 min

12 hrs 55 min

5 hrs 40 mins

11 hrs 15 mins

4.5

9

3

6

4.0

12

24

8 hrs 35 mins

17 hrs 10 mins

7hrs 30 min

15

6

12

4

8

  • Determination of Instructional Hours for Distance Courses: Any combination of the following activities can be used to calculate instructional hours for distance courses:
    • The time spent in live or recorded instruction
    • Number of screens viewed in the course at 3-5 minutes per screen (depending on the amount of content)
    • Viewing live or recorded student-led discussions or presentations
    • Run time for videos and/or audio media calculated on a 1:1 ratio
    • Links to external course content (reading an article, listening to a podcast, or watching an external instructional video when review of such content is not considered homework)
    • Posting to group discussion boards in Canvas or external discussion sites (e.g., course Facebook page)
    • Online group project work that is not considered homework (i.e., instructor is participating as a facilitator in the group work)

[1] NOTE: Semester-long courses are 15 instructional weeks plus finals week, resulting in a total of 16 weeks. Use the 15-week tables for determining amount of instructional time and outside work hours for semester-long courses.

Enrollment Status

Undergraduate Students*

Full-time 12 or more credits
Three-quarter time 9-11 credits
Half-time 6-8 credits
Less than half-time 5 or fewer credits

 

 

 


*Undergraduate students must be enrolled at least half-time (6 credits) to be considered eligible for federal loans.

Graduate Students*

Full-time 9 or more credits
Three-quarter time 7-8 credits
Half-time 5-6 credits
Less than half-time 4 or fewer credits

*Graduate students must be enrolled at least half-time (5 credits) to be considered eligible for federal financial loans.

Non-Classroom Opportunity for Credit: The Prior Learning Portfolio Program

In 1978, as a member of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), the University designed a program that awards academic credit for learning that took place outside a formal college setting. Students may apply this credit toward an academic degree from the University of Mary. The University awards undergraduate and masters-level graduate credit after an assessment of a prior learning portfolio developed by each applicant to the program. Credit for prior learning is not granted based solely on experience. Students must demonstrate proficiency in the outcomes resulting from the experience and such outcomes must align with those associated with specific University of Mary courses.  Prior learning detailed in the portfolio is evaluated by University faculty from the relevant academic field to ensure that course outcomes have been met.

This program is primarily designed for students who have an extended record of employment, specialized certificates or certifications, military experience, and/or other forms of qualifying service such as civic activities or volunteer experience in which the student acquired skills applicable to his/her degree. More information on the prior learning program can be found online.

Prior Learning Criteria

  • Not all programs accept prior learning credits (e.g., programs that require licensure, certification, or endorsement by a recognized jurisdictional governing body may not be able to award prior learning credits). Before pursuing prior learning credits, the student should consult with the appropriate division chairperson.
  • Students may receive a maximum of 45 undergraduate prior learning/exam credits and a maximum of 9 masters-level prior learning credits.
  • If students also have transfer credits, transfer credits and prior learning credits combined cannot exceed 92 undergraduate credits and no more than one-third of the credits required for a master’s degree.
  • Prior learning credits cannot be applied toward capstone or directed study courses.
  • Prior learning credits are awarded without a grade and not factored into students’ GPAs.
  • All prior learning portfolios are maintained in students’ permanent education records.
  • A candidate for a degree must submit the portfolio for evaluation at least one semester prior to the date of graduation.
  • Ordinarily, prior learning credits are non-transferable. They are recorded as prior learning credits.

Eligibility

In order to be eligible for prior learning credits, a student must:

  • Be accepted to University of Mary before applying for prior learning credits; graduate students must be accepted into their program of study before applying. This provision may be superseded by MOUs or other contractual agreement entered into by UMary and a third-party for purposes of accepting documentation of prior learning (e.g., NCBC certificate).
  • Have completed the transfer credit evaluation process, if applicable.
  • Completed the online, self-paced prior learning credit orientation. This is a zero credit workshop.
  • Identify and petition for prior learning credits in a specific university course(s) within his/her academic program.
  • Pay the prior-learning credit petitioning fee.
  • Complete at least 6 credits of local/UMary coursework applicable to his/her current program of study before prior learning credits will be posted to the student’s transcript. Undergraduate students must also be at junior level standing (60 earned credits).
  • Demonstrate that prior learning experience is relevant to content covered in a specific University of Mary course and meets that course’s outcomes.
  • Meet all University of Mary portfolio standards as outlined in the Prior Learning Handbook.
  • If petitioning for graduate prior learning credit, the relevant experience must have taken place after the student earned his/her bachelor’s degree and have occurred within at least seven years of applying for graduate study at UMary.
  • Demonstrate that his/her experience exemplifies proficiency in outcomes at the same level as the course in which the student is petitioning (i.e., students petitioning for prior learning in a graduate course must demonstrate that their experience is equivalent to graduate-level work).

Grading and Transcripts

Grading Scale

Grades awarded at the University of Mary are A, B, C, D (with + or -), or F. Some UMary academic programs do not use the “+/-” designation, and these program standards supersede the university’s general policy on grading.

The University of Mary grading scale, published on the back of the official transcript, used to assign final grades and points is as follows:

A Outstanding performance 4.0 points
A-   3.7 points
B+   3.3 points
B More than satisfactory performance 3.0 points
B-   2.7 points
C+   2.3 points
C Satisfactory performance 2.0 points
C-   1.7 points
D+   1.3 points
D Passing, but less than satisfactory performance 1.0 points
D-   .7 points
F Unsatisfactory 0 points
W Withdrew, no status 0 points
WF Withdrew, failing 0 points
WP Withdrew, passing 0 points
I Incomplete 0 points
P Passing 0 points

Calculating Grade Point Average (GPA): When a course is repeated, both courses are entered on the transcript, but only the most recent course will be counted toward the degree and the grade point average. Students earn honor points for each semester credit according to the value of the grade received. The grade point average is computed by dividing the honor points earned by the credit hours.

Course Audit

Any student currently enrolled at University of Mary may audit a course. Course audits are subject to the following terms and conditions:

  • Any time a student would like to take a course ungraded/for zero credit, s/he must register to audit the course. Faculty may not permit a student who is not properly enrolled and has not paid fees to audit a course.
  • Registration for course audits must occur by the add/drop deadline each semester.
  • No credit will be awarded for course audits, and course audits will not count for purposes of:
    • Determining full-time or part-time enrollment status
    • Calculating GPA
    • Calculating Satisfactory Academic Progress
    • Determining financial aid status or qualifying for financial aid
  • The student must pay the per-credit audit fee. Contact Student Accounts for details. As part of the audit fee, the student will receive access to the course in the learning management system (i.e., Canvas) and will receive all course material made available to students who are taking the course for credit.
  • The student shall reach an agreement with the course instructor on the allowable level of course participation when auditing a course (i.e., the level at which the auditor can participate in class discussions and activities and complete assignments and receive feedback).

Transcript Requests

Transcripts are certified copies of the student’s permanent record and show academic status at the time of issuance. Transcripts will be issued only if authorized in writing by the student, and 3-5 business days are needed for transcript transactions. Official transcripts will be withheld if a student or graduate has not met financial obligations at the University.

Academic Petitioning 

Academic Grievances

Academic grievances are petitions to change a decision rendered about an academic matter, excluding Academic Warnings, Suspensions, and Dismissals from the University. Students may file an academic grievance for several reasons including: a perceived violation of university policy, failure to follow published course policies, a lack of consistency within the student’s course section, or a dispute over the factual accuracy of graded work. The following are not reasons that qualify matters for academic appeal: a disagreement with published course policies, differences in classroom policies or grading schemes in different courses or between different sections of the same course, or a grade’s impact on a student’s academic progress, athletic eligibility, or eligibility for financial assistance or veteran’s benefits.

Students shall use the following procedure to file an academic grievance:

  1. Within two weeks after a student experiences the problem, he/she should contact the instructor involved and discuss the situation. If still dissatisfied, the student should proceed to Step 2.
  2. Provide the Department/Division Chair or Dean (in the absence of a Chair) with a written statement that identifies the course and instructor, describe the problem, request specific actions, and give evidence to support the appeal within 30 calendar days of the original appeal to the instructor. Students should include copies of all relevant documents: papers, tests, etc. The Department/Division Chair or Dean (in the absence of a Chair) reviews the material and rules on the request. A student may appeal the decision of the Department/Division Chair or Dean or assigned alternate under only specific circumstances, as outlined in Step 3.
  3. Students may appeal the ruling in Step 2 based on the discovery of new evidence previously unavailable, a significant irregularity in the procedural process that could affect the ruling in Step 2. General dissatisfaction with the decision made under Step 2 is not sufficient grounds to appeal the decision to this level. The appeal under this part must take place within 30 calendar days of the ruling in Step 2. Students appeal to the Dean or Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs (AVPAA) if the Dean ruled in Step 2. To file an appeal, the student must provide the Dean or AVPAA with a written statement that identifies the course and instructor, describes the problem, describes the new evidence or the perceived irregularity, and provides evidence to support the appeal. Students should include copies of all relevant documents: papers, tests, etc. The Dean or AVPAA reviews the material and rules on the request. A student may appeal the decision made under Step 3 under specific circumstances, as outlined in Step 4.
  4. Students may appeal the decision made under Step 3 if he or she believes there has been a significant irregularity in the procedural process, or if new evidence comes to light that may change the outcome of the appeal. General dissatisfaction with the decision made in Step 3 is not sufficient grounds to appeal the decision of the AVPAA. Students may appeal the decision to the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) within 30 calendar days.

    The VPAA shall select an impartial committee of three university faculty and/or administrators to adjudicate the appeal within a reasonable deadline as determined by the VPAA. The committee then requests that the student submit evidence within a reasonable timeframe; reviews the evidence; interviews, if necessary, those individuals involved; and recommends in writing a course of action to the VPAA. The VPAA considers the recommendation of the committee and rules on the appeal. That ruling is final and binding.

Exceptions to the Academic Grievance Process:

  • Absent Faculty: In a case where the instructor is absent or is no longer employed by the University, the appeal shall begin directly with the Chair or Dean of the Division or School in which the course was taken
  • Additional preliminary levels of appeal: In some programs, students may have additional levels of appeal available to them prior to reaching the Dean. Additional preliminary levels of appeal appear on the course syllabi and may include other university officials such as a program director or level coordinator. Once an appeal reaches the level of Dean, all appeals must follow the sequence stated in this section.
  • If the adjudicator listed in any of the appeal steps is the instructor of record for the course in which the appeal is filed, a designee will be appointed by the instructor’s immediate supervisor to adjudicate the appeal and the appeal will begin at the level at which the instructor of record would otherwise serve as the appeal adjudicator.

Academic Amnesty Policy

Academic Amnesty allows qualifying students the opportunity to request removal of academically poor grades, as defined below, from the calculation of their grade point average (GPA).

Submission Timeframe and Process: Students may petition for Academic Amnesty by requesting a form from the Office of Academic Affairs and submitting it to the Academic Standards and Admission Committee chair. The form must specify the courses the student requests to be forgiven when calculating GPA based on the criteria for requesting academic amnesty (below).

The petition for Academic Amnesty may be made at the time of application for readmission to UMary, in which case approval, if granted, will be conditional upon readmission and enrollment in UMary courses. The petition must be made no later than six months following the student’s readmission to UMary.

Criteria for Requesting Academic Amnesty: Only undergraduate courses with grades of “D” and “F” are considered academically poor and may be forgiven. Only graduate courses with a “C-” or lower are considered academically poor and may be forgiven. Only courses taken ten semesters or more before the student’s application for readmission may be forgiven by petition. Current students who change their major from one division to another division and/or have unusual circumstances may also petition to have their academically poor grades excluded. This policy can be used only one time in the student’s academic career.

Approval Process and Impact of Approval: Once a petition for Academic Amnesty is approved by a simple majority vote of the Academic Standards and Admission Committee, the original University of Mary grades still will be shown on the transcript but a notation will be made, and these grades will not be included in the calculation of grade point averages or the satisfaction of degree requirements. Grades with this denotation are still factored into satisfactory academic progress calculations made for financial aid purposes.

Approval of an academic amnesty petition does not guarantee the availability of federal financial aid since academic amnesty decisions have no impact on satisfactory academic progress calculations made for financial aid purposes. Students are encouraged to contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss financial aid eligibility before enrolling in courses.

Exceptions: Exceptions to this policy are reserved to the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) and will be heard only at the VPAA’s discretion typically after the Academic Standards and Admission Committee has ruled.

Attendance Policies

Class Attendance

Policy for class attendance is determined by individual faculty members. The policy regarding absences may vary from instructor to instructor. It is the responsibility of the student to be familiar with the policy of each of their instructors. The student is responsible to contact the instructor as soon as it is possible to discuss possible arrangements for making up any course work that has been missed for cases involving school sanctioned absences, serious illness, hospitalization, or other serious circumstances.

A student is responsible for any work missed and may be dropped from a class because of excessive absences upon request of the instructor and the approval of the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Excessive Absence Policy

The University of Mary encourages students to regularly attend class and allows faculty to develop their own classroom attendance policies. Faculty are required to monitor student attendance and are required to report excessive absences, as defined below, through the UMary Retention Early Alert System. The Office of Academic Affairs will receive notice of this alert.

For purposes of determining if a student is in attendance, s/he must be physically present in seated classes, and s/he must be participating in online classes on at least a weekly basis or as otherwise required by the course attendance policy. Online course participation includes participating in discussion boards, submitting assignments on time, and/or interacting with the instructor through electronic means.

Faculty shall excuse a student from class when the university’s excused absence policy applies and may establish and implement course-level policies on excused absences.

Excessive Absences Definition

The University of Mary Office of Academic Affairs reserves the right to administratively drop or withdraw a student from class for excessive absences, which are defined as follows:

  • 16-week courses: Unexcused, consecutive absences during the first 10 calendar days of class or missing 15 or more days of instruction throughout the semester due to unexcused absences; instructors may establish a more stringent definition of excessive absences for their courses and shall report such absences in accordance with this policy.
  • 5-10 week courses: Not participating at least once during the first week (7 calendar days) of an online class; failing to be in attendance during the first two class meetings of a seated course

The Office of Academic Affairs will investigate all reported excessive absences. Based on when the absences occurred and the recommendation of the instructor, the Office of Academic Affairs will either administratively drop a student who is excessively absent or withdraw the student from the course (using the W, WP, WF designations as appropriate) if the student cannot be reached and/or the student cannot provide evidence that their absences meet the definition of an excused absence in the university’s or the course policy. The Office of Academic Affairs will notify the student, the Financial Aid Office, Residence Life, Student Accounts, Athletics (if applicable), International Services (if applicable), Military Services (if applicable), and the Registrar’s Office of its decision to administratively drop or withdraw a student for excessive absences.

Consequences of Excessive Absences

An administrative drop or withdrawal may impact a student’s scholarships, federal financial aid, and his/her ability to live in UMary Residence Halls. Residence Life requires that students maintain full-time status to live in Residence Hall, and the Student Handbook addresses the consequences of falling below this threshold, which may include requiring the student to vacate his/her residence hall.

Student Accounts will implement applicable provisions of the Student Refund Policy when a student is administratively dropped/withdrawn, and Financial Aid will take appropriate action under applicable polices related to student aid.

Reinstatement

Students who are administratively dropped/withdrawn may request to be reinstated using the following procedure:

  1. The student must receive approval from the instructor of record who shall consider the feasibility of completing all course requirements within the class time remaining.
  2. Approved reinstatement requests must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar and Student Accounts; any unpaid tuition and fees for the course must be paid before the student is reenrolled.

Deployment Policy

A student who is called to active military duty should promptly notify the Office of Military Student Services (written or orally) of his or her military orders, including the departure date, to begin the withdrawal process.

If the student withdraws before 75 percent of the semester has elapsed, the student will receive a full refund of tuition and fees without credit or grades being posted. A grade of “W” will be recorded on the student’s transcript.

If the student withdraws after 75 percent of the semester has elapsed, the student will receive full credit with grades earned at the time of withdrawal. If a course relies on a final project and/ or examination to determine satisfactory performance, no credit will be granted until all required work is completed.

Students taking online courses may continue to be enrolled in those classes if it is possible and Internet is accessible.

Students wanting to complete their courses via independent study may do so with the consent of the instructor(s).

Students living in residence halls and/or with a meal contract will be refunded all remaining room and board costs.

The University will comply with the HEROES Act of 2003 to ensure that service members who are receiving federal student aid are not adversely affected because of their military status.

Withdrawal from the University

Students who intend to temporarily stop out or permanently withdraw from the University must contact their advisor or the Students Success Center to receive instructions on completing the University’s Exit Survey.  Failure to complete the Exit Survey may have both academic and financial consquences, making completion of it an essential step prior to withdrawing from the University. 

Academic Conduct Standards

Academic Honor Code & Honor System

The University of Mary Academic Honor Code and Honor System is found at www.umary.edu/honor. All student assignments are subject to screening for plagiarism through www.turnitin.com software.

Student Conduct in Instructional Settings Including Online Courses

Disruptive conduct is defined as conduct which may include, but is not limited to, interfering with classroom procedures, the presentation of the instructor or other students, or another student’s right to pursue coursework. Disruptive conduct may also be covered under other university policies that may apply.

In response to non-threatening disruptive conduct in an instructional setting, the instructor has disciplinary authority over classroom behavior and may dismiss or temporarily remove from the classroom any student engaged in disruptive conduct, and the faculty member is the sole judge of whether a student’s conduct is sufficiently disruptive to warrant dismissal from the classroom. A written warning is not required as a prerequisite to disciplinary action for disruptive conduct in instructional settings. A faculty member may adjourn the class and/ or seek assistance, as the faculty member deems necessary. This assistance may include contacting campus security, the department head or chair, the dean, academic affairs, student development, human resources or law enforcement. Faculty members shall report the situation to their department head or dean.

If, in consultation with the dean and/or academic affairs, the student’s conduct is sufficiently disruptive to warrant permanent dismissal from the classroom, the dean or academic affairs officer shall have the authority to drop, withdraw, or cancel the student’s registration for the course or full course schedule. The student has the right of redress as outlined in the Academic Appeals Process (see the Academic Life: Undergraduate  or Academic Life: Graduate  section for details).

Graduation

Required Documentation

It is the responsibility of degree-seeking students to file an application for graduation in the Registrar’s Office one full semester prior to the date of graduation. Also, an advisor verification of eligibility for graduation is due one full semester prior to graduation.

Ceremony Participation

All graduates are required to participate in the annual graduation ceremony held at the close of the spring semester unless excused by their dean or his/her designate. To participate in the annual commencement ceremony, students must have satisfactorily completed all work leading to a degree by the end of the spring semester. Independent studies and requests for Prior Learning Credit for graduating undergraduate seniors must be completed at least one month in advance of the end of their final semester of enrollment. An exception to these academic requirements will be made for students under the following circumstances:

  • The undergraduate student is enrolled in an internship, provided the internship will be completed by the end of the subsequent semester.
  • Undergraduate students in teacher education who have a block of directed teaching to complete may participate in the ceremony, provided that the student teaching experience and the Student Teaching Seminar are the only courses needed to satisfy their degree and will be completed in the fall semester after the ceremony.
  • Undergraduate students who are within 12 credits of completing their degree(s) may participate in commencement if their academic advisor has submitted an Early Graduation Participation request to the Office of Academic Affairs and received approval from this office.
  • Graduate students who are within one semester of completing their degree may participate in commencement if their academic advisor has submitted an Early Graduation Participation request to the Office of Academic Affairs and received approval from this office.
  • Occupational Therapy students who are receiving the MSOT degree for the years 2018, 2019, and 2020 and who still need to complete two semesters of field work. After 2020, Occupational Therapy students will have a doctorate degree and will not need this waiver.

Graduates participating in the ceremony must have completed arrangements for payment of their financial obligations.