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.
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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.
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.