DePaul University owes tuition and fee refunds after transitioning to online classes and closing its two Chicago campuses due to the COVID-19 crisis, a proposed class action claims.
According to the lawsuit, DePaul graduate and undergraduate students have been deprived of the in-person educational experience for the Spring 2020 quarter and semester, as well as the Summer 2020 term and sessions, for which they’ve already paid tuition and fees. Despite acknowledging that online learning will be a “far different experience” than what students paid for and expected, defendants DePaul University and its board of trustees have nonetheless refused to issue refunds or reimbursement for tuition costs and fees, the lawsuit alleges.
The suit says that by the end of March 2020, DePaul had announced classes for the entire Spring quarter—and the rest of the Spring semester for law students whose program operates on a semester basis—would, with rare exceptions, be held online, and both of the school’s Chicago campuses would be “locked down.”
According to the case, the online education provided by DePaul is in no way the equivalent of the in-person experience paid for through tuition and fees.
“Essentially, students have paid DePaul for hands-on classroom instruction and experiences in which they can no longer engage, learning facilities they can no longer enter, and academic resources they can no longer access,” the complaint argues.
The plaintiffs, an undergraduate senior and graduate student, assert DePaul has chosen to pass its losses from the pandemic onto students and their families who may be experiencing financial or medical hardship. More from the complaint:
“Defendants are thus profiting from COVID-19, asking students and their families—many of whom have been laid off, become ill, or are otherwise suffering significantly—to bear the financial brunt of the pandemic. Both contract and equity demand that Defendants disgorge these funds.”
The lawsuit stresses that DePaul is expected to receive at least $14 million from the federal government as part of a stimulus package meant to “ease the impact of COVID-19.”
The case—which adds to a growing list of lawsuits seeking refunds from colleges and universities for the COVID-19-shortened Spring term—looks to cover anyone who paid DePaul University tuition and/or fees for in-person education for the Spring 2020 quarter or semester, the Summer 2020 term, and/or one or both Summer 2020 sessions.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.