Arizona Supreme Court Will Rule on Case Against Tuition Increases
By Brooke Heath
Last week, the Arizona Supreme Court agreed to hear a case filed by former University of Arizona students who claim that tuition increases for in-state students are unconstitutional. The lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Regents was initiated after a $1,000 tuition raise in 2003 increased in-state tuition by nearly 40%.
The former students claim that this tuition increase was in direct violation of the state's constitutional mandate, which states that "university and all other state educational institutions shall be as nearly free as possible," according to the Arizona Daily Wildcat.
The board of regents approved the tuition increase in 2003, claiming that it was required to help offset rising costs and provide additional financial aid to students.
"Part of that capacity is to ensure that enough financial aid is available to students who can't afford higher tuition rates," said Nancy Tribbensee, general counsel for the Arizona University system and a staff member of the Arizona Board of Regents.
But according to John Kromko, one of the four former University of Arizona students who initiated the lawsuit, the money was not only used to improve education directly but also for scholarships, research, and building construction.
"It's right to give scholarships, but it's not right for university students to pay for those," he said. "The regents and the universities have not taken any steps to ensure that tuition is as low as possible."
A court determined in November that the students were allowed to take legal action against the board of regents regarding their choice to raise tuition. The board of regents then disputed the outcome and appealed to the Supreme Court. The court has yet to determine whether the board of regents can, indeed, be sued for the tuition hikes.
"Now it looks like it's finally going to get decided," said Kromko. "I think this is a vital state matter that really needs to be decided by the Supreme Court."
If the Arizona Supreme Court does rule that it is lawful to sue the regents, the initial case will be reconsidered by the trial court. However, if the Supreme Court decides that the board of regents cannot be sued for the increase in tuition, the case will die.
Article Title : Arizona Supreme Court Will Rule on Case Against Tuition Increases
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