Students pay for Univ. lawsuit from own pockets

Thousands of former UC students were reimbursed last month by the University of California, marking the finale of a class-action lawsuit filed against the UC Board of Regents in 2003.

But current students are paying for this lawsuit with a $60 temporary surcharge that was approved by the UC Regents in May of last year to cover the losses, which are more than $33 million.

This surcharge was added to the educational fee for all students currently enrolled in the University of California, UC spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said.

The charge will continue until all the costs associated with the lawsuit have been fully recovered.

However, at least 33 percent of the revenue from the undergraduate student surcharge and 50 percent of the graduate students fees are set aside for financial aid, Vazquez added.

It is anticipated that the revenue generated from the surcharge will cover the costs of the trial within five to six years, Vazquez said.

According to the UC Regents Web site, this fee is necessary because the final court ruling prohibited the university from collecting professional student fees from students affected by the lawsuit. As a result, the university has lost approximately $20 million in uncollected professional school fee revenue.

In November 2007, a state appeals court ruled that the university had breached a contract with the students by increasing professional degree fees, despite brochures and catalogues stating that the fees would not be increased, according to a court release.

The court also ruled that the educational fee, which was increased for undergraduate students in the spring and summer of 2003 without prior notification to the students, was a violation of the students’ rights.

More than $33 million in damages and interest were granted to the plaintiffs in order to cover the money that they would have accumulated had the fees not been raised, said UC Students Association spokeswoman Liz Hall. She added that affected students are already receiving the reimbursements.

“This verdict means that the regents can no longer take advantage of students. This is a lesson for them that students will fight for affordable education,” Hall said.

The lawsuit was initially prompted by the regents’ decision to raise graduate school fees in December 2002 , along with other UC fees, by 25 percent starting in the following fall, according to Daily Bruin archives.

Since 2003, the case has seen multiple courtrooms as the university appealed the court’s decision in March 2006 and then tried to appeal to the California Supreme Court in November 2007.

The university lost both cases and was required to reimburse students.