Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Audrey Anderson was quoted in a Higher Ed Dive article about the status of tuition refunds following the move to online courses. After months of speculation as to whether colleges and universities that moved to online learning might be called on to refund tuition payments, a recent federal ruling will allow students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York to move forward with a lawsuit seeking tuition reimbursement after campus shut down for the spring and summer 2020 semesters.
More than 100 lawsuits have been filed against colleges related to tuition refunds as of June 2020, most of which center on the schools’ promises of a certain campus experience (in-person classes, real-world work experiences, extracurricular activities, etc.) and allege a breach of contract with students and families by eliminating those opportunities.
While the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute case has been approved to move forward under similar argument, it remains to be seen whether they will be successful in actually winning the lawsuits. Audrey expects similar cases to move into the discovery phase of litigation, but because this would be expensive for some institutions, they could be prompted to settle for a sum lower than the cost to litigate. Those that do proceed will likely be those against the large residential colleges that advertised the strength of their on-campus programs, she added.
The full article, “A Coronavirus Tuition Refund Lawsuit Moves Forward,” was published by Higher Ed Dive on January 5 and is available online.