Some time after matriculation my university made a new graduation requirement of passing a board exam. The school has a 7 year time frame for completing the degree. I am a primary care giver for my baby & cannot meet the new requirement in time. What can I do?
Administrative Law Lawyer
This is a difficult question, primarily because the issue must be resolved with reference to material provided to you or published/furnished at the time that you enrolled and -- most probably -- at each time (new term) that you renewed your enrollment by new tuition payments or agreements. Most likely, the university expressly and explicitly has reserved the right to revise or modify degree requirements from time to time, and your enrollment agreement most likely accepted that reservation as part of the terms and conditions for admission to the school. And it is a fact that colleges and universities must have the discretion and power to revise degree requirements periodically in order for the degrees they issue to be meaningful in the marketplace and in academia. Schools simply can't maintain their original graduation standards in perpetuity and it is the nature of the service that universities provide that some students will always be in progress toward their degrees whenever revised degree requirements are implemented. Still, there is a decent argument to be made that fairness and equity requires that students who began their coursework under one set of degree requirements be "grand-fathered" and not have the mandatory agenda changed on them mid-course. Many institutions would either take that position initially themselves, or would allow affected students to petition for that status.
Assuming that your school made the kind of reservation of rights that is standard practice, I suggest that you try to work this out with a personal appeal to school administrators rather than by recourse to a lawsuit. Courts give universities and colleges a large degree of deference in their management of student affairs -- particularly in issues of academic standards and degree requirements. So you cannot count o a favorable result in a lawsuit. And a lawsuit would be expensive and potentially very time-consuming (2+years) for you. But often what cannot be compelled by law can be had by persuasion-- persuasion by you or even by an attorney on your behalf. There are any number of subjective factors that might factor into the school's consideration of a request that the new degree requirement be waived in your case, including your grades and progress and your standing in your department. It may also be helpful to your efforts to research how comparable universities manage these kinds of transitions and to present that data to your school. I can't predict the outcome of such efforts at persuasion and negotiation, of course. But I think that is the correct starting place for you on this matter.
Of course, you also need to consider and research whether the new degree requirement is one that is externally imposed by the legislature or by a state licensing board in your professional field. If that is the case, you will need to examine the statute or agency rule to determine whether your school has any power to make any accommodation for you. If not, you will need to figure out some way to meet the degree requirements as they stand now.
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Education Law Attorney
Attorney Mccall gave you a very complete answer. Permit me to simplify, in answer to your original question; "Can I sue a private university for breach of contract?" Probably not.
You have not identified what the university agreed to do that they have not. As Attorney Mccall pointed out, the university probably reserved the right to change requirements. Even if they did not reserve this right, they will argue that they are still willing to teach you and that impracticability due to your circumstances is beyond their control.
I do hope you and this school can work things out. Good luck.
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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
Both attorneys who answered this question gave very complete answers. I do not necessarly agree that you can not sue the College because you can but the outcome for you is suspect. Go to a lawyer with all of your paperwork and pay the money for a consultation it's worth it.
The advice offered is based only on the information provided and not to be construed to create an attorney relationship. I will allways give you a free consultation, so we can discuss all the facts of your case call us anytime at 718-263-6800
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Family Law Attorney
You can sue a private university. The outcome will depend on the facts. It is probable that the university has protected itself, but not certain. I think it would be worthwhile to meet with an attorney and present your documents. It may also be helpful to have the attorney assist you with asking the university to make an exception for you. The presence of an attorney conveys a level of determination that may be given more careful consideration.
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