The trial court abused its discretion in denying private attorney general fees under CCP 1021.5 to plaintiff who had prevailed on appeal, in a published decision, in reversing the defendant college’s decision to expel him for having supposedly committed a sexual assault on another student. The published appellate decision held that the college had failed to conduct the disciplinary proceedings in accordance with its own procedures and due process. The decision enforced an important public right and benefitted a substantial portion of the public including other students at that college and others. The trial court abused its discretion in assessing the financial burden element of private attorney general fees, focusing on the “punishment” that a fee award would inflict on the college rather than the financial burden that plaintiff incurred in prosecuting the case. Finally, even if fees should be apportioned between recoverable and nonrecoverable fees, the difficulty of apportionment is not a sufficient reason to deny a fee award altogether.