Bradley University faces a proposed class action filed by a Jane Doe plaintiff who claims the school has retained the full amount of tuition and fees paid by students despite shortening the Spring 2020 semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Echoing a slew of lawsuits filed against universities amid the COVID-19 crisis, the 41-page case out of Illinois claims the Peoria school has refused to issue tuition refunds or reimbursements after failing to provide classes for one week of the 15-week semester, closing campus facilities, and transitioning to an online-only format for nearly half the spring term.
“Bradley’s decision to take these actions to the detriment of its student body in response to COVID-19 pandemic was unjust where it accepted and retained full tuition and mandatory fees for the entire 15 weeks of in-classroom instruction and use of on-campus facilities, resources, and services,” the complaint argues.
The lawsuit contests that Bradley failed to provide the in-person instruction and services— including access to on-campus facilities, resources, opportunities, events and technologies— contracted and paid for by students and their families in accordance with the terms outlined in the school’s 2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog. According to the suit, the school declares that the catalog represents a contractual agreement, noting that “[t]his catalog serves as a contract between a student and Bradley University.”
Per the complaint, while Bradley promised to provide a “comprehensive academic experience,” what students received after transitioning to online classes in March amounted to “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.”
After classes transitioned online, instructors “failed to come close” to fulfilling the three hours of course instruction per week for which students paid, the case says, adding that the plaintiff received “an inferior level of education” due to the reduced workload and instruction time.
Moreover, the suit alleges students were deprived of the resources and benefits for which they paid certain course-specific fees, labeled by Bradley as “Course Surcharges,” meant to cover the costs of lab supplies, art supplies, facility use, materials, trips, and software programs.
According to the case, while Bradley has offered “some reimbursements” for housing and meal plans, the school has refused to reimburse the student body “for the more critical losses,” declaring instead that “[n]o tuition and fee adjustments will be made for the Spring 2020 Semester.”
The plaintiff argues that students have not received the full value of the services for which they paid tuition and fees and have been robbed of the “benefit of their bargain” while Bradley has continued to “reap the financial benefit of millions of dollars from students.”
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.