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UC to repay grad students $28 million

Jenna Johnson

A superior court judge has ordered the University of California to pay nearly 3,000 current and former graduate students about $28 million, The Daily Californian reports. The students say the university promised them a tuition freeze when they enrolled and then increased their professional school fees by thousands of dollars to make up for lost state funding. University officials are considering appealing the decision.

The students were enrolled in the university's professional programs in law, business, medical, dentistry, nursing, veterinary medicine and dentistry. A vast majority of them were accepted during the 2002-03 school year when the university's fee guidebook promised to keep fees at the same level the entire time a student is enrolled and only impose increases on incoming students. That wording disappeared without explanation when the students began classes in the fall of 2003, and students went on to see their fees increase by thousands of dollars. In 2005, a group of students sued the university system, The Daily Californian reports.

"The reason that a lot of people go to UC professional schools is because it is affordable, and it is particularly important for those that want to use professional degrees in non-lucrative areas," lead plaintiff Andrea Luquetta, a UCLA School of Law graduate, told The Daily Cal.

UC spokesperson Leslie Sepuka told The Daily Cal that it was obvious to this group of students that tuition would have to increase: "By the time these students enrolled in 2003-04, it was very clear that the policy stating fees would remain constant was no longer in effect. It was removed because the funding level could no longer support the fee ceiling."

The UC regents have approved short-term fee increases for new students to pay the cost of previous, similar rulings, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. The university's attorney in the case, Christopher Patti, told the Chronicle, "This is obviously going to be very expensive to the university and will place a burden on current students," through either higher fees or reduced programs.

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By Jenna Johnson  |  March 15, 2010; 9:02 AM ET
Categories:  News Overload  | Tags: UCLA, University of California  
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