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University changed my residency status and request out-of-the state tuition for past semesters I completed

Orlando, FL |
Filed under: Education law Appeals

I started grad study in Aug 2010. University admitted me as a in-state student in Apr 2010 because my mom is a resident of the state and she is the person who was paying my tuition. I am a F-1 student. I submitted my all documents including passport during my application. My documents was clearly indicating that I am not a citizen nor permanent resident but the person who sponsors my study is. I recognized that there is an update in my account. I asked about it. They told me that they have changed my residency status to out-of-the-state and I have to pay difference from fall 2010 and spring 2011. I came to my current school because of the in state tuition. I had admission from better schools with cheaper out-of-the state tuition. Can I sue the university? It is clearly not my mistake.

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

If you read carefully through your contract (enrollment materials) with the university, you will inevitably find that the contract addresses the issues of your current dispute. Typically, enrollment materials expressly reserve the right to the school to revise and change the tuition applicable to you if additional info on the residency issue causes a redetermination of the student's residency status. It is also typical for the school to provide an administrative appeal process for the student to dispute the re-determination, but the time limits for the admin appeal process are typically very short. It is almost universally true that there is legally no right to take a tuition-residency determination to court unless and until the issue has been pursued through completion of all of the administrative appeal process available through the school. Failure to make or complete a timely administrative appeal may cause a forfeiture of any right to challenge the tuition redetermination in court.

You have asked whether you can sue the university, and the process described above is the most significant of a number of legal barriers to your ability to take the tuition issue to court. But there is also the other side of the coin: can you be sued? The answer is yes, and in truth you should be less concerned about aggressing with suit against the school than you should be with surviving the school's powers to enforce and collect the tuition debt. The school can sue you for tuition debt, including the amount of the retroactive re-determination of your tuition, because of the rights reserved under the contract, as described above. But even more critically, the school can and will freeze your transcripts, leaving you in a limbo with respect to completing your degree, qualifying for additional financial aid, transferring to any other educational institution, obtaining work in your field, maintaining any scholarship or awards, and potentially involving your student immigration status.

As for the contention that you would have gone to a different school but for the error by the school re your tuition status, you are unlikely to get much traction on that claim because the contract specifically identifies and provides for the potential for re-determination of your tuition status. Given that fact, you will have enormous difficulty in proving that you had no knowledge or warning of the potential redetermination and that means that your decision as to where to enroll necessarily took into account (or should have) the event that you are now complaining of.

Sorry that there isn't a more encouraging answer but colleges and universities have almost all of the power and advantages in tuition issues. They have been in this tuition business for a very long time, and have done this same transaction tens of thousands of times. They have both the experience and the resources to have nailed the exits shut quite comprehensively.

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

Asker

Posted

Thank you very much for your explanatory answer. I appreciate. Is it really re-determination or error correction? How can a student be responsible from every sensitive mistake school or employee of school might make? As a consumer, don't I have right to know cost of a service I will receive? Thanks again

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall

Posted

There isn't much difference in practice how you label it. The school has reserved the legal right to change your determination. You ask: "How can a student be responsible from every sensitive mistake school or employee of school might make?" You aren't responsible from every sensitive mistake school or employee of school might make. Just the ones that the contract specifies will be your problem. "As a consumer, don't I have right to know cost of a service I will receive?" What you have the right to know is what is set out in your contract. The rights provided there are your rights, unless the law independently provides additional rights. A contract is not just a receipt. It is a binding statement of what the answer will be if certain predictable problems come up.

Posted

Why would you sue them? You didn't qualify for in-state tuition because you are not a lawful permanent resident of the United States ... who pays the bills is irrelevant.

F-1 students always do, and should, pay out-of-state and/or out-of-country tuition.

Go ahead and ask a contract attorney ... but, I don't see you having success.

IMMIGRATION LAW PROFESSOR for 10 years -- LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This answer is offered for informational purposes only. It does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.

Asker

Posted

Why did they admit as a in-state, if F-1 students need to pay out-of-the-state? Obviously it is a mistake but does the student have to forfeit someone else mistake? It affected the decision student made which is a extremely important decision. They requested the extra tuition two year after the semester completed. Is it legitimate and reasonable to change rules of a game after the game started in United States?

F. J. Capriotti III

F. J. Capriotti III

Posted

Good questions ... but not immigration questions. Ask a contract attorney.

Posted

I agree with my colleague.

Guerra Saenz, PL--Immigration Attorneys (954) 434-5800. This answer is of a general nature and should not be relied upon as final, nor is it intended as legal advice.

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