As a student, you expect the college experience to be more than just classes and term papers. You certainly expect it to be more than lectures delivered via video conferencing. Unfortunately, that’s the situation many college students are currently facing.
Hundreds of thousands of students have been uprooted from university campuses across the country in recent months in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. In spite of the tuition and fees they pay for a college education – and all that it entails – students have no access to the classrooms, facilities, teachers and staff, extracurricular activities, and more.
If you don’t get what you pay for, you expect a refund or reimbursement. However, many colleges have denied student requests for partial reimbursement of tuition and fees for the spring and summer semesters. To make matters worse, although financial aid and scholarships have suffered in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, many colleges have announced that they will not be reducing tuition and fees to account for the “new normal” of virtual college education.
At Dreyer Boyajian LLP, we believe this isn’t right. Our lawyers have filed a tuition class action lawsuit on behalf of students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and we are actively investigating claims against other colleges and universities in New York.
All students who are losing out on the education they have paid for should receive a refund on their tuition and fees. However, with a number of universities denying these requests, legal action has become necessary.
When you join a tuition class action claim, you are not filing an individual lawsuit against your college. Instead, you are establishing that you belong to a class that has suffered the same wrong from the same party – in this case monetary losses and loss of educational access due to your school’s decision to close campus and offer online-only instruction.
If you asked for a refund or reimbursement and the university or college denied your request, you may be able to join a tuition class action.
In tuition class actions, students are seeking compensation for two sets of damages:
The claims seek restitution of financial costs (i.e., the tuition and fees students have already paid) as well as a diminished educational experience.
All universities strive to set themselves apart from other schools. In order to do so, marketing and advertising often emphasizes not only the quality of the education but the spaces, people, and programs that enrich the overall student experience.
Students pay for state-of-the-art research facilities; collaborative learning opportunities; advanced training programs; modern housing, dining, and recreational spaces; and much more with their semesterly tuition and fees. Now, with university closures, students are being denied access to many of the features of campus life that their payments fund.
Classroom learning is an immersive experience. Not only are you receiving instruction in-person from a teacher or professor, but you are surrounded by peers in an environment conducive to gaining knowledge.
Conducting classes via Zoom and other video conferencing platforms is a pale imitation of learning in an actual classroom. You hear the instructor’s words, but you have little to no engagement with him or her, not to mention with your fellow students.
Furthermore, in terms of job preparedness and the value of a diploma, a college education that consists of on-campus and in-person learning is considered superior to an online-only curriculum. As a result, the tuition and fees students have paid for the spring and summer semesters are going toward a less valuable education experience.
By refusing to issue refunds or partially reimburse students, colleges and universities are unjustly enriching themselves at the expense of students.
The first step is to see if any tuition class actions have been filed against your college or university. Contacting a lawyer is an effective way to learn about your legal options.
To use New York as an example, Dreyer Boyajian LLP has filed on behalf of students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. We are also investigating similar claims against institutions such as the University of Rochester, Hamilton College, Skidmore College, Vassar College, Colgate University, and the Sage Colleges.
If a class action claim has already been filed, you probably won’t have to take any further steps until the case is resolved. In the event of a settlement, you will receive notification of the compensation you are due as part of the class, and what you have to do to receive it.
It is important to hang on to documents that show you are a student of the university and what you paid for tuition and fees while the campus was closed. These include:
This information may be helpful for establishing your claim once the class action is resolved.
If you sought tuition reimbursement due to COVID-19 and your request was denied, you may be eligible for compensation through a class action lawsuit against your university or college. Dreyer Boyajian LLP has extensive experience in a wide range of class action litigation, and we encourage you to contact our law firm for assistance.
Please complete our online form or call (518) 463-7784 for a free and confidential consultation. Our attorneys are based in Albany and Saratoga Springs, and we serve clients throughout New York.