SUNY Tuition Refund Class Action Settlement

Welcome to the Informational Website for the Class Action Settlement in Sara Strum, et al. v. The State University of New York, et al.

Please Read this Notice Carefully.

This Notice Contains Important Information about your Rights.
This is a Notice of a Pending Class Action and Proposed Settlement Regarding Tuition Refunds for Some People Who Paid Non-Resident Tuition at SUNY Schools (The State University of New York).
A New York State Court authorized this notice.  This is not a solicitation from a lawyer.

You May be Eligible for a Tuition Refund from SUNY if you

  1. Graduated from a New York State High School or Received a GED in New York State, and
  2. Attended a SUNY School at any time from the Fall 2007 to the Spring 2011 terms, and
  3. Paid the Non-Resident Tuition Rate (also called the out-of-state rate)

To receive any money you must send in a Claim Form by: September 4, 2013

Please Read Below For More Information.  Other exclusions and details apply.

 SUNY Tuition
Settlement Claim Form with Instructions
 SUNY Affidavit of Intent To 
Legalize Immigration Status
 SUNY Tuition Settlement Claim Form  SUNY Tuition Affidavit of Intent To Legalize Immigration

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS NOTICE?
The purpose of this notice is to inform you that a New York State court has granted class action status in this case, Strum v. SUNY, and that you have been identified as a possible Settlement Class member. This notice will also describe who is included in the Settlement Class, what to do if you are a member of the Settlement Class and what to do if you want to object to or be excluded from the settlement.

WHO BROUGHT THIS LAWSUIT?
Sara Strum and Lauren Beer, two former students at Binghamton University are bringing this lawsuit as a class action, on behalf of themselves and all other people in a similar situation.

WHO IS THE LAWSUIT AGAINST?
The lawsuit is against the State University of New York (“SUNY”) and certain officials from SUNY.

WHAT IS THE LAWSUIT ABOUT?
The two students bringing this lawsuit were residents of New Jersey and paid the non-resident tuition rate when they attended Binghamton University.  But the students argue that SUNY should have charged them the resident tuition rate (also called the “in-state” rate) because they met certain requirements under the law for students who graduated from New York high schools as they did.  The details of these requirements are found in New York Education Law, section 355(2)(h)(8).

Based in law and SUNY policies, SUNY has raised defenses to the former students’ claims, but has agreed to make tuition refunds according to the settlement.

AM I A MEMBER OF THE SETTLEMENT CLASS?
Read this section carefully.  It will tell you whether you are member of the Settlement Class and perhaps eligible to receive a refund. You must satisfy requirements numbered 1, 2, 3 and either 4A or 4B.  Certain other exclusions apply.  You need not have graduated from SUNY.

1. You attended one of the eligible SUNY schools for any period of time during:

  • Fall 2007 term
  • Any time in 2008
  • Any time in 2009
  • Any time in 2010
  • Spring 2011 term

AND

2. You or your parents paid the non-resident tuition rate. (Also called the “out-of-state” rate).

AND

3. You were not a resident of New York State at that time.

AND EITHER

4A. You attended a New York high school for two or more years and applied for attendance at SUNY within five years of graduating from a New York high school.

OR

4B. You attended a New York state GED program and applied for attendance at SUNY within five years of receiving your GED.

YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR A REFUND:

  • If you were a non-immigrant alien under federal law.
  • If your high school or GED program is not recognized by the NYS Department of Education.
  • If you do not send in a Claim Form by September 4, 2013.
  • If you exclude yourself from this settlement.
  • For tuition refunds at the SUNY Community Colleges.
  • For tuition refunds at Cornell University and Alfred University.

HOW MUCH MONEY WILL I GET?
A few things have to happen first.  First, this settlement will have to be approved by a judge. Second, you must meet all of the requirements.  Third, you must fill out and return a Claim Form by September 4, 2013.

Finally, after receiving your Claim Form, SUNY will check its records and any information you provide to see if you overpaid.  If you are entitled to a refund, SUNY will direct that the NYS Office of the Comptroller mail a check to you.  The exact amount of your refund will depend on several factors and you may not be entitled to a refund. You will not receive a refund for scholarship or grant money that you did not have to pay back.

Refund payments may include interest.  Note that interest payments are considered taxable income under the Internal Revenue Code and/or your state Tax Law.  Interest paid to class members in any calendar year will be reported to the Internal Revenue Service on Form 1099 as required by law.  Payments to be made pursuant to the Settlement Agreement will be issued by the NYS Office of the Comptroller and are subject to audit by that Office.

WHICH SUNY SCHOOLS ARE ELIGIBLE?
Binghamton University
College of Environmental Science and Forestry
College of Optometry
Downstate Medical Center
Stony Brook University
University at Albany
University at Buffalo
Upstate Medical University
Buffalo State College
Empire State College
Purchase College
State University of New York at Geneseo
State University of New York at New Paltz
State University of New York at Oswego
State University of New York at Potsdam
SUNY College at Oneonta
SUNY Cortland
SUNY Fredonia
SUNY Plattsburgh
The College at Brockport
The College at Old Westbury
Alfred State College
Farmingdale State College
Maritime College
Morrisville State College
SUNY Canton
SUNY Cobleskill
SUNY Delhi
SUNY Institute of Technology

* The SUNY Community Colleges, Cornell University and Alfred University are NOT part of this settlement.

WHO ARE THE LAWYERS FOR THE CLASS?
The judge has approved Andrew L. Lee, Esq. and Peter Mustalish, Esq. of the law firm ALL COUNSEL P.C., to be the lawyers for the class.  They are located at 680 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor, New York NY 10019.  They are also called “Class Counsel.”

DO I HAVE TO PAY ANY LAWYERS?
Settlement Class members will not pay any money directly to Class Counsel.  A portion of any refund you receive will go directly to Class Counsel as compensation for their services.  Class Counsel will ask the judge to be compensated based on the total benefit achieved by the Settlement.  The judge will decide what amount is fair.

HOW DO I BECOME A MEMBER OF THE SETTLEMENT CLASS?
You are automatically a member of the Settlement Class if you meet the criteria unless you specifically request to be excluded in the manner described below.  However, in order to receive a refund you must fill out the Claim Form and return it by September 4, 2013. Your claim is subject to verification by SUNY.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A MEMBER OF THE SETTLEMENT CLASS?

  • You will be represented by the Representative Students and Class Counsel.
  • You will receive notice of any ruling or judgment affecting your status in this lawsuit. You will be bound by any judgment, settlement or other final disposition of the class lawsuit.  You cannot bring your own lawsuit.
  • For purposes of this case you will be deemed to have consented to SUNY disclosing certain personally identifiable information about you from their records to Class Counsel, the judge, the NYS Office of the Comptroller, the NYS Office of the Attorney General, SUNY and SUNY staff participating in the claims process.

WHAT IF I WANT TO OBJECT TO THE SETTLEMENT?
As a Settlement Class member, you may appear, with or without your own counsel, at the Fairness Hearing held on July 18, 2013 in Binghamton, New York, to be heard in opposition to the terms of the settlement, provided that you send a written Notice of Objection entitled: 
“Objection to the Settlement in Strum, et al. v. SUNY, et al. (Index No. 2011/00064), postmarked by June 28, 2013 to the following: (i) Andrew L. Lee, Esq., ALL COUNSEL P.C., 680 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor, New York NY 10019 (Class Counsel); and (ii) NYS Office of the Attorney General, Laura Barnhill, 44 Hawley Street, 17th Floor, Binghamton, New York 13901 (Respondents’ Counsel).

Your written objection must include: (a) your name, address and social security number; (b) a notice of intention to appear and whether you will appear with or without an attorney retained by and paid for by you; (c) a detailed statement of each objection asserted; (d) the grounds on which you desire to appear and be heard; and (e) any documents and writings which you desire the Court to consider and a list of witnesses you may call by live testimony. If you object but the court nonetheless approves the settlement, you will be barred from bringing your own lawsuit asserting individual claims related to the matters referred to in the class action lawsuit, and you will be bound by the judgment and releases in the settlement and all orders entered by the court. Settlement Class members who do not make known their objections in this manner will be deemed to have waived all objections and shall not be heard or have the right to appeal the approval of the settlement.

WHAT IF I WISH TO BE EXCLUDED FROM THE SETTLEMENT CLASS?
If you wish to be excluded from the Settlement Class, you must send a written notice to: (i) Andrew L. Lee, Esq., ALL COUNSEL P.C., 680 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor, New York NY 10019 (Class Counsel); and (ii) NYS Office of the Attorney General, Laura Barnhill, 44 Hawley Street, 17th Floor, Binghamton, New York 13901 (Respondents’ Counsel) by June 28, 2013.  You must include your full name, social security number, address, telephone number, e-mail address and a statement that you wish to exclude yourself from the Strum v. SUNY lawsuit.

If you exclude yourself from the Settlement Class, (i) you will not be bound by any settlement, judgment or disposition of this case; (ii) you will retain any claims you may have against respondents (i.e SUNY); (iii) you will not share in the benefits of any settlement, judgment or disposition of this case; and (iv) you will not be able to object to this settlement and be heard at the fairness hearing.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
There will be a hearing on July 18, 2013 in Binghamton, New York in front of the Honorable Ferris D. Lebous in New York State Supreme Court, to determine: (i) whether this settlement should be approved as fair and reasonable; (ii) whether to approve the attorneys’ fees and expenses to Class Counsel.  You are not required to attend unless you are filing an objection, but you may do so if you wish.

IF I AM MEMBER OF THE SETTLEMENT CLASS, CAN I STILL BRING MY OWN LAWSUIT? 
NO.  Unless you exclude yourself from the Settlement Class you will be barred forever from bringing a lawsuit asserting claims related to the matters referred to in this lawsuit.

HOW DO I GET MORE INFORMATION?
Do Not Call or Write the Court or the Judge or SUNY or any of its campuses.This notice is a general description of the case and does not cover all the issues in detail. You may review the pleadings, the full settlement agreement and all other court documents at the office of the Clerk of the Court of Broome County, Supreme Court who will make the file available to you for inspection and copying at your expense during regular office hours. Some of these documents may be available online at http://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/iscroll/index.jsp

If you have any questions concerning the matters in this notice, or if you have corrections or changes to your name or address, please contact Class Counsel atsuny@all-counsel.com.

SUNY Tuition Settlement AgreementApril 12, 2013

SUNY Tuition Refund Class Action Settlement Agreement