A proposed class action claims Grand Canyon University has refused to issue refunds for tuition, room and board, and other fees after transitioning to online classes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawsuit argues that those who attended Grand Canyon on an in-person basis did not receive the services for which they already paid after the Phoenix school transitioned to online classes in March and effectively forced students to leave campus. According to the suit, any refunds or reimbursement offers from the private university have been “insufficient” to fully compensate students for their losses.
According to the case, GCU announced on March 12 that “all but a few in-person classes” would be moved to an online format effective March 23. In the following weeks, the suit says, the university effectively gave students no choice but to return home after closing most campus facilities, canceling all events and activities, and issuing several mandates that “highly encouraged” students to leave campus.
“Although it was announced that the GCU campus would remain open, students had no meaningful choice but to comply with the mandate to return home to complete coursework online,” the complaint states.
Despite its failure to provide in-person instruction and services, Grand Canyon has refused to issue appropriate refunds for the cost of tuition, room and board, and other fees, the lawsuit alleges. Notwithstanding the “vast price difference” between in-person and online classes, which the plaintiff says are “substantially cheaper,” the school has improperly retained the full amount of tuition paid for online-only education during the second half of the semester, the case argues.
The lawsuit goes on to contend that although the university has offered “limited credits” for room and board—ranging from $260 to $450 depending on dorm location and occupancy—these amounts are “insufficient” to compensate students who moved out by March 25 for the unused portion of their room and board payments.
Along the same lines, Grand Canyon has failed to reimburse students for the cost of their meal plans, the suit says, with the school announcing that non-graduating students’ dining dollars will instead be rolled over to the Fall semester. Grand Canyon’s offer is “insufficient,” according to the complaint, because “it does not refund the amounts paid now.” As the case tells it, some students returning in the Fall have no need for rolled-over dining dollars as they will be moving off campus and will not require a meal plan.
The plaintiff, an undergraduate student, claims he paid approximately $8,250 in on-campus tuition, $1,400 in fees, and $3,500 in room and board costs, plus the cost of purchasing WiFi equipment to continue online classes at home. He looks to represent anyone who paid GCU on-campus tuition, room and board costs, and/or fees for in-person educational services and facilities that were not provided during the Spring 2020 semester.
The 16-page complaint echoes a slew of lawsuits filed against universities and colleges amid the COVID-19 pandemic over their alleged refusal to issue refunds for tuition and fees.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.