The RIAA would much rather that you settle outside of the courtroom, paying some fee (which they'll argue is much less than the true amount you'd paid for the copyright infringement you've committed). In the case of this student, the amount is $3,750. You'll notice that this article is from the MIT Tech, the student paper. The student ends up talking to someone at the RIAA since she can't afford $3,750, much less a lawyer in a lawsuit. She finds out that the RIAA "make allowances if something like a medical emergency comes up."
She tries to argue that school is an extenuating circumstance as well, and gets the response "but you’re not in a situation like that" and followed up with "In fact, the RIAA has been known to suggest that students drop out of college or go to community college in order to be able to afford settlements."
The student's next line in the article echoes my sentiments: "Are. You. Shitting. Me." (All right, I wouldn't have used the profanity, but you get the point.)
I mean really, you expect someone to drop out of a prestigious school, rather than working out some kind of arrangement for them to pay? The RIAA would rather that you go to a lackluster institution, leading to a lower-paying job, which in the long run may result in you pirating more music . . . right . . . and that's ignoring the general evil of suggesting that someone should drop out of college for you . . .