A 13-year lawsuit is finally wrapping up for former students at the University of Maryland, regarding how in-state tuition is decided. The outcome of the lawsuit resulted in dozens of graduates from the state school receiving refunds amounting to a combined $1.6 million.
Many of the school’s former students were law, medical and dental students. While the majority of the students in the class action suit received refunds years prior, the case finally closed last week in Baltimore City Circuit Court last week.
The refunds received ranged from $1,212 to $71,445.
It all began in 2002, when Karen Bergmann, a student enrolled in the University of Maryland’s law school, challenged the university’s decision to enroll her as an out-of-state student, in turn charging her higher tuition rates.
While Bergmann initially lived in Virginia, she moved to Maryland, where she changed her driver’s license, attended jury duty, leased an apartment, and worked in the state over the summer. She applied to the law school in 2000; at age 36, she had not been claimed as a dependent on anyone’s tax returns for around 13 years.
While these measures might normally qualify someone for in-state tuition, the university still classified Bergmann as an out-of-state student, as she did not meet the school’s requirement for financial dependence due to an inability to prove that she received enough income to cover more than half of her life expenses.
The College Board reports that the average cost of in-state tuition and fees are currently around $31,231 for private school, and $9,139 for in-state tuition at public universities.
At first, Bergmann filed a lawsuit on her own. Soon after she teamed up in a class action suit with other students enrolled in University System of Maryland institutions who were dealing with similar predicaments.
Ultimately 125 students joined the class-action case, and around 75% of the students were granted refunds for the different between in-state and out-of-state tuition charges, as well as the additional student loan interest due to higher tuition.