Colleges and universities across the U.S. were among the first to shut down after the Coronavirus Pandemic began.
Many students were sent home from college campuses in March, forced to finish their semester remotely.
Even as some colleges and universities are bringing students back – dozens are facing lawsuits filed by students or parents – demanding refunds for a portion of their tuition from the spring semester that was interrupted by the pandemic.
The main concern is that the education they paid for was not the education they actually received.
That concern was widespread when classes went remote, because typically, schools that offer online classes are significantly less expensive – like community colleges. Meanwhile, for exclusive liberal arts colleges to continue charging full-price for tuition – left a lot of concern on the table.
Though some have argued for the benefits of online learning —flexible learning hours and access to pre-recorded lectures — most students complained that the experience was lacking. Three-quarters of those surveyed said they were unhappy with the quality of online classes. Many found it difficult to retain information, they missed live classroom debates, while others felt they were missing out on immersive education and on-campus networking.
Roy Willey is a lawyer with the Anastapoulo Law Firm, which set up the site CollegeRefund2020.com to represent students and families seeking tuition refunds from the COVID-19 shutdowns.
“Students are looking for basic fairness,” Willey said of his clients. “So it’s not fair for universities with multi-million dollar endowments to keep all of the money that students and their families paid — often by incurring great debt. It is not fair to pass the full burden of the pandemic onto students and their families.”
Colleges have argued that endowments cannot simply be used for shoring up budget gaps, despite many calls over the spring and summer to do just that.