Students’ Lawsuit Seeking Refund of Wrongful Tuition Hikes Is Certified as a Class Action

Posted on: January 28th, 2011 by Steve Larson

A legal complaint by five students who accused California State University trustees of illegally raising tuition in 2009 is now an official class-action lawsuit on behalf of 200,000 students demanding their money back.  At stake is $40 million in refunds for students at a time when CSU is facing at least a $500 million cut in state funding that could bring on layoffs, course reductions and even higher tuition.

The lawsuit claims CSU illegally raised tuition for fall 2009 because students had already paid that semester’s bill.  On May 13, 2009,  CSU trustees voted to raise the fall tuition by 10 percent. They told students – including those who had already paid for fall – to pay by July 9. Then, on July 21, the trustees raised the fall tuition by another 20 percent.

On Jan. 5, 2011, a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled that students at 19 of the 23 CSU campuses who were billed after paying their tuition could join the lawsuit, as could students in graduate level business programs.  Judge John Munter, in his decision, cited a similar case in which the California Court of Appeal ruled that the University of California had to refund last-minute fees imposed in 2003. In that case, Judge Munter said, the court ruled that a contract arises when a student accepts a university’s offer of admission.