Judge Rules UC Tuition Increase Illegal

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.”

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer