Brigham Young University-Idaho, Inc. has been hit with a proposed class action over its apparent refusal to offer refunds to those who paid tuition and fees for the Winter and Spring 2020 terms disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the case, Brigham Young-Idaho announced on March 13 that it would close its Rexburg, Idaho campus and hold courses remotely for the rest of the Winter 2020 trimester, which ended April 9, due to the COVID-19 crisis. On March 18, BYU-Idaho informed students that the Spring 2020 trimester, scheduled to run from April 20 to July 22, would also be taught online amid the pandemic, the case says.
The plaintiff, an undergraduate software engineering major, argues that the defendant has failed to provide the services, facilities, access, and opportunities for which students contracted and paid. According to the suit, the remote learning options forced upon students “are in no way the equivalent” of the in-person instruction and experience contracted and paid for by BYU-Idaho students.
“The online learning options being offered to BYU students are subpar in practically every aspect,” the case specifies, “from the lack of facilities, materials, and access to faculty.”
Nevertheless, Brigham Young-Idaho has refused to issue refunds for tuition and fees, choosing instead to retain the full amount of funds paid “for services it is not providing,” the lawsuit claims.
The plaintiff notes that Brigham Young-Idaho’s on-campus experience was marketed as a benefit of enrollment, with the school emphasizing that tuition and fees were intended to cover “not just the academic instruction” but “an entirely different experience” that included face-to-face faculty and peer interaction, access to campus facilities and study areas, participation in student groups and activities, and networking and mentorship opportunities.
As the lawsuit tells it, the difference in quality between an in-person and online BYU-Idaho education is “clearly illustrated” by the fact that the cost of one term for an in-person program at the university is “more than twice” that of the school’s online programs.
The plaintiff seeks prorated tuition and fee refunds on behalf of anyone who paid BYU-Idaho for an in-person education during the Winter and Spring 2020 terms that the school failed to provide and who has not been refunded.
Brigham Young University-Idaho joins the ranks of dozens of other colleges and universities who have been hit with proposed class action litigation over their alleged refusal to issue refunds for the Spring 2020 semester shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.