June 24, 2020 – Harvard Continues to Charge Full Price for Subpar Online Learning, Grad Student Claims
Harvard University faces another proposed class action lawsuit decrying the Ivy League school’s decision to charge tuition and fees “as if nothing has changed” amid the COVID-19 crisis while refusing to issue refunds.
The plaintiff, a full-time graduate student at Harvard Law School, claims what’s been offered to tuition payers after classes were transitioned online on March 23 has been “subpar in practically every aspect.” Deprived of the access to facilities, materials, faculty and classroom participation for which they’ve already paid, students forced to pivot to online learning mid-semester have received from Harvard an experience much more limited than what they bargained for, the lawsuit says.
Per the complaint, classes for Harvard’s law, medical and Kennedy and Graduate School of Education will occur solely in an online format for the Fall 2020 term. Harvard’s Business School and undergraduate college have yet to announce whether in-person classes will resume in the fall, the case says. Despite the forgoing, tuition for each Harvard school remains the same as it was for the coronavirus-shortened 2019-2020 year, the lawsuit says, with the school offering neither a tuition reduction nor refunds for the Spring 2020 semester.
A pseudonymous Harvard student argues in a proposed class action that the Ivy League heavyweight owes tuition and fee refunds for the Spring 2020 semester, which has been curtailed by the COVID-19 crisis.
According to the 15-page complaint, Harvard students lost out on the benefit of an already-paid-for in-person academic environment, as well as on-campus activities, services and facilities access, when the university announced on March 10 its transition to online learning. Harvard, whose spring semester began around January 27 and was to run until May 16, has not held in-person classes since March 13 and offers only online instruction amid the coronavirus pandemic, the suit says.
The unnamed plaintiff alleges the online learning options offered by Harvard are “subpar in practically every aspect” and are “in no way the equivalent of the in-person education” for which proposed class members paid hefty tuition and fees.
“Nonetheless, Harvard has not refunded any tuition or mandatory fees for the Spring 2020 semester,” the case relays, noting that undergraduate tuition for the semester cost nearly $24,000 plus fees.
Further, the suit argues that even if Harvard had no choice but to pivot to online learning in the face of the national health crisis, the university has nevertheless improperly retained money paid for services it is no longer providing. The case asserts that Harvard students did not choose to attend an online institution, but rather chose to enroll at the school on an in-person basis with the expectation of receiving all that came with the defendant’s tuition and fee price tag.
“The remote education being provided is not even remotely worth the amount charged class members for Spring Semester 2020 tuition,” the complaint reads.
Harvard joins a long list of universities and colleges nationwide who face proposed class action litigation over their apparentrefusal to issue tuition and/or fee refundsfor the pandemic-shortened Spring 2020 semester.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.