Students Suing After Colleges Charged Them For Services That Were Shut Down During Pandemic
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Multiple lawsuits have been filed from students across the country as a result of colleges and universities continuing to charge students tuition and fees for services that were shut down during the coronavirus pandemic.

Campus Reform reported on several lawsuits, including one filed earlier this month by an undergraduate student at Rice University. The class-action lawsuit seeks $5 million from the university for not providing students the “college experience they paid for,” the outlet reported.

“Plaintiff and the members of the Class have all paid for tuition for a first-rate education and on-campus, in-person education experiences, with all the appurtenant benefits offered by a first-rate university. Instead, students like [the] plaintiff were provided a materially different and insufficient alternative,” the lawsuit says.

Manhattanville College in New York is also being sued, Campus Reform reported. The school has allegedly refused “to refund expensive fees it charged students for access to campus facilities it barred them from using during the pandemic.” The school promised to credit students up to $1,850 for unused room and board costs, but attorneys for former student Joseph Laudati say that money was not returned after Manhattanville learned Laudati would not return to the school in fall 2020.

Aside from lawsuits, students have also filed petitions urging their schools to return fees for services that have become unnecessary during the pandemic. As Campus Reform reported, “students at Towson University in Towson, Maryland, which is offering approximately 85 percent of its classes online during the spring 2021 semester, published a second petition calling for school officials to cancel or refund a $499 athletics fee, which they already petitioned Towson to cancel for the fall semester.”

“Towson University officials say the money will pay for ‘extensive health measures’ required for its athletes, even though that was supposed to the purpose of the $17.3 million the university received in federal coronavirus aid funds. The school is set to receive even more money from the most recent federal COVID aid package and could net more federal funds if another federal aid package passes Congress and is signed into law by President Joe Biden,” the outlet reported.

At the University of California-San Diego, student Jessica Liang created a petition asking the school “to cancel or discount fees for athletics, transportation, and other recreational services.” Though the petition received 12,000 signatures, the school has not relented.

In a further blow to students, some schools have invented new fees. At Kansas State University, tuition was frozen but the school has been charging “online” and “privilege” fees, which refer to alleged services such as sports and entertainment, even though many of the covered services are not being offered during the pandemic.

West Virginia University charged students $250 if they didn’t receive a COVID-19 test before returning to campus in the fall. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign charges “Student-Initiated Fees” that cover progressive causes such as the “Cleaner Energy Technologies Fee,” “Cultural Programming Fee,” and the “Sustainable Campus Environment Fee,” according to Campus Reform.

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