100 lawsuits have been filed by students seeking college refunds
By Andrew Kesner
Courts could weigh in on the value of online learning as class-action lawsuits hit colleges that canceled classes amid coronavirus
In a growing number of lawsuits across America, college students suddenly stuck in Zoom ZM, -0.56% classes want some of their tuition money back because, they say, this kind of academic experience isn’t what they bargained for.
Now they’re going to have to prove it.
That’s the key question — or at least one of them.
It’s been approximately two months since colleges started cancelling on-site schooling in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Though a number of schools have offered pro-rated refunds on room and board, tuition discounts have been a sticking point. And that’s launched approximately 100 class-action lawsuits from students against their schools so far, according to one tally.
So how will this play out in court? That’s tough to say.
Students have sued their schools over tuition long before the pandemic, said Neal Hutchens, a higher education law expert at the University of Mississippi (a school that, as of Wednesday, has not faced a tuition refund lawsuit).
But some of those cases involve allegedly meaningless degrees from for-profit schools, Hutchens noted. In another case, a displaced law school student unsuccessfully sued because he had to study, in person, at a different school after Hurricane Katrina.
There’s nothing at this “unprecedented” scale, said Hutchens. “This is definitely much different.”