Pepperdine University faces a proposed class action lawsuit seeking refunds for students forced to leave campus and transition to online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The case argues that although students were asked to move out of the school’s Malibu campus by March 15 and finish their Spring 2020 courses online, Pepperdine has refused to issue refunds for tuition and fees, choosing instead to shift the financial burden onto proposed class members and their families.
“Despite sending students home and closing its campus(es), Defendant continues to charge for tuition, fees, and/or room and board as if nothing has changed, continuing to reap the financial benefit of millions of dollars from students,” the complaint states.
Filed by the father of a graduate student, the lawsuit claims that while students paid for and were promised a “comprehensive academic experience,” they received instead “something far less.” After classes were transitioned online, Pepperdine failed to provide the in-person educational experience—including face-to-face interaction with faculty and access to campus facilities and resources—that served as a “significant focus” of the school’s efforts to recruit students, the case says.
The lawsuit points out that tuition charges for an in-person education are “significantly higher” than for online programs such as those offered by Pepperdine. Despite the seeming difference in value between in-person and online classes, the university has refused to offer prorated tuition refunds, agreeing only to prorate housing and dining costs inconsistently across Pepperdine’s five schools.
The plaintiff notes that tuition for his son’s graduate program is set to increase by 3.8 percent for the Fall 2020 term.
Filed on the heels of dozens of cases looking to recover tuition and/or fee refunds for the COVID-19-shortened Spring semester, the lawsuit seeks to represent the following class:
“All people paying Defendant, in whole or in part, personally and/or on behalf of others, for Spring 2020 tuition, fees, and/or room board for in-person instruction and use of campus facilities, but who were denied use of and/or access to in-person instruction and/or campus facilities by Defendant.”
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.