U. of Missouri Faulted

For Tuition Charges

ST. LOUIS -- A judge has ruled that the University of Missouri broke the law for 15 years by charging thousands of instate undergraduates an estimated $450 million in illegal tuition.

St. Louis County Circuit Judge Kenneth Romines found that the state broke an 1872 law that required free tuition within the university system for all qualified Missouri youths older than 16.

University President Manuel T. Pacheco had contended that "educational fees" the university imposed from 1986 to last year were different from tuition. The fee was based on each credit hour. But in his Dec. 6 ruling, Romines wrote that educational fees and tuition are the same.

The judge did not award any damages to thousands of students enrolled at the Columbia, Rolla, Kansas City and St. Louis campuses between 1986 and 2001. A full refund could cost as much as $450 million, the university estimated. It is considering an appeal.

Last year, Gov. Bob Holden signed a law overturning the 1872 law. It allows the university system to collect "tuition and other fees."

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-- From News Services