Last Wednesday Judge John Munter of the Superior Court of San Francisco ruled that the University of California must pay $38 million to former students. Munter ruled that the school unlawfully raised tuition after it assured students it would maintain the existing cost. According to an article by Josh Keller in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Munter:
Ruled that the university had breached an implied contract when it raised fees for about 2,900 professional-school students who enrolled starting in 2003. The university had made a binding promise to those students that they would pay the same level of fees over the course of their studies, the judge wrote.
The decision is the second time the university has lost a class-action lawsuit over fee increases for professional-school students. In a similar case, Kashmiri v. U.C. Regents, the university was forced to pay $33-million to refund the fee increases of thousands of professional-school students who enrolled before December 2002.
In the latest case, the trouble has to do with that whole “implied contract” thing. The university’s policy had been that even when it raised fees at the school, students already attending the school wouldn’t be subject to the increase. Students who enrolled at the school thinking the tuition would hold steady were hit with higher fees once they got to the school.
According to the Keller article, UC argued that “students should have known that their fees could go up because the university had already imposed a fee increase for other continuing students by the time they enrolled.”