More college students suing for tuition refunds, as some schools refuse reimbursement

Students seeking tuition reimbursements after being sent home during COVID-19 outbreak

Students from at least three more universities have filed class-action lawsuits against their respective schools seeking refunds for their tuition as most have moved their coursework online amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, court papers show.

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Brown, Boston and Montclair State universities were slapped with separate lawsuits by students calling to be reimbursed for the costs of tuition, room and board, or all three, court papers show.

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Students from Brown and Boston University sued the schools on Thursday because they have “refused to provide any tuition or fee refund for the Spring 2020 semester,” according to the lawsuits, which were filed by the same law firm.

“College students enrolled in classes when the COVID-19 outbreak struck were left with no access to their dorms, to classrooms, campus cafeterias or other facilities they paid to use,” said Steve Berman, attorney for students in the class action suit. “We believe there’s absolutely no reason why they should continue to be stuck holding the bill for tens of thousands of dollars, only to be kicked off campus.”

The firm, Hagens Berman, is also representing a student from Vanderbilt University in a similar class-action lawsuit. Columbia, Pace and Long Island universities have also recently been hit with suits seeking college-cost refunds.

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A Brown University spokesperson told FOX Business the school is aware of the lawsuit, but has not yet been served.

"During this time of global crisis, no aspect of our daily lives are what anyone expected," said spokesperson Brian Clark in an emailed statement. "However, what has not changed is the core value of a Brown education."

A representative for Boston University did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request seeking comment.

“Despite sending students home and closing its campus(es), Defendant continues to charge for tuition and fees as if nothing has changed, continuing to reap the financial benefit of millions of dollars from students,” the lawsuit states. But the schools instead are offering “something far less: a limited online experience presented by Google or Zoom, void of face-to-face faculty and peer interaction, separated from program resources, and barred from facilities vital to study.”

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Tuition for the spring 2020 semester at Brown cost $28,556, while Boston University's spring tuition was $27,360.

Earlier this week, a film student from Montclair State University sued the school in an attempt to get a refund for prorated tuition for the spring semester, NorthJersey.com reported.

"The online learning options being offered to Montclair students are subpar in practically every aspect and a shadow of what they once were," the lawsuit reportedly states.

The student, who said his course-study depends on hands-on learning, paid $6,125 in tuition for the semester, in addition to fees, according to the report. Undergraduate students from out-of-state pay more than $10,000 a semester.

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A spokesperson for Montclair State told FOX Business the school is not providing partial refunds for the semester.

“In order to help save lives and slow the spread of the virus, all educational institutions in New Jersey were required by government order to stop providing in-person instruction during the public health emergency,” spokesperson Erika Bleiberg said. “The University has continued to provide all of our students with instruction and support services, so that they can stay on track toward graduation."

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