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Arizona's high court dismisses tuition suit

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2007/08/10 15:22

Students at Arizona's three state universities who hoped a 2003 lawsuit would lower their tuition are out of luck. Saying the tuition increase is a political question and not a judicial one, the Arizona Supreme Court Thursday upheld a lower court's decision to dismiss the case. Four university students sued the Arizona Board of Regents after the board raised tuition 39 percent in a single year. Students said the increases violated the state Constitution's requirement that state universities be "as nearly as free as possible."

Attorneys representing the students had hoped that if they won in court, tuition would be lowered to pre-2003 levels, when in-state tuition and fees for undergraduates averaged about $2,500 a year. Undergraduate in-state tuition and fees for the coming school year averages up to $4,949. advertisement 

Tucson attorney Paul Gattone, who represents the students, said he was disappointed in the ruling. He worries that students from middle-income families will be hurt the most by rising tuition because they aren't eligible for as much financial aid as students from lower-income families.

"Certainly we can assume tuition rates are not going to go down any time soon, and they probably will continue to climb," he said. He has not decided whether he will ask the court to reconsider the decision.

The state Board of Regents has contended Arizona's tuition is low in comparison to many state universities. The regents have kept tuition and fees in the lower one-third of a sample of 50 public U.S. universities. The average tuition and fees at those universities is $6,635 a year, according to a regents survey.


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