CALIFORNIA, Calif (CTNS)- For five years, UC students have been paying a $60 annual fee to help the university finance massive refunds for past illegal tuition practices. As a result of a UC regents vote, that charge will continue for five more years.
The controversy began a decade ago when students in law, medical, nursing and other UC professional schools complained that they were being forced to pay fee increases despite promises in university brochures and websites that their education costs would not rise before graduation.
Two groups of those students sued and in 2006 and 2010 won Superior Court cases, and later appeals, that led to 12,000 refunds as much as $10,000 a person in some instances.
The $60 surcharge, imposed as a solution to UC's legal troubles, has nearly paid off the $42 million in refunds and other costs from one lawsuit and is aimed at covering $49 million more from the second, officials said at the regents' meeting in San Francisco.
Students object to the surcharge. "It has an unseemly quality to it," student regent Jonathan Stein said. It feels like "a thorn in the side" for students to finance UC's recovery from what courts found were illegal actions, he said.
Despite such opposition, the regents approved continuing the surcharge and said they had no alternatives other than possibly cutting spending on classes and other services. Regent Richard Blum on Thursday acknowledged that the university made mistakes that led to losing those lawsuits but supported the surcharge nonetheless. "I do not think that $60 a year, as unfair as you may think it is, is probably going to jeopardize anybody's law career," he told students. "I don't like it, but I don't know what else to do."