New York University faces at least two proposed class action lawsuits that allege the school has improperly retained tuition and fees for the Spring 2020 semester despite being unable to provide the already paid-for education, resources and facilities due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Despite sending students home and closing its campuses in mid-March amid efforts to “flatten the curve,” NYU has continued to charge students tuition and fees despite its “complete inability to continue school as normal,” one lawsuit, filed June 16, says. Moreover, students who paid NYU for a comprehensive, in-person academic experience have received “something far less” as the school necessarily transitioned to online learning facilitated by Google or Zoom, the suit reads.
“Plaintiffs and the Class Members did not bargain for such an experience,” the complaint asserts, alleging NYU has made its decision to withhold refunds for tuition and fees “without taking into account disruptions to family income” due to the coronavirus pandemic.
One case, filed by a full-time undergraduate NYU London drama student and her tuition-paying father, says the woman enrolled in the program—at a per-semester cost of more than $36,000—“to obtain the full experience of overseas, live, in-person courses,” participate in class performances and interact with peers, a particular focus for performance arts study. Through the semester was slated to end May 22, the plaintiff was instructed by NYU to leave London the week of March 13 and told those studying abroad would receive only online instruction going forward, the suit says.
“The online learning options being offered to NYU students are subpar in practically every aspect, from the lack of facilities, materials, and access to faculty,” the lawsuit alleges, echoing dozens of other refund-seeking suits. “Students have been deprived of the opportunity for collaborative learning and in-person dialogue, feedback, and critique. This is particularly true for students like [the plaintiff] focusing on dramatic arts because she cannot undertake required performances or partake of the facilities necessary to perform.”
Another case, filed May 8 by a graduate student studying real estate investment, charges that while NYU’s actions in the face of the COVID-19 crisis are attributable to the pandemic and New York state’s shelter-in-place orders, the school has nonetheless attempted to pass off its financial burdens onto tuition-paying students and parents. The plaintiff says NYU’s refusal to issue refunds and decision to continue charging full tuition and fees while operating at a significantly reduced capacity has saddled “wholly innocent students with mounting debt.”
The plaintiff says that in addition to the cost per credit charged by NYU, he paid additional fees to attend a global real estate markets course for which he was to travel to Paris and Amsterdam to survey the cities’ real estate. Per the lawsuit, the course was “never offered in that manner,” and took place instead entirely with remote video instruction.
The lawsuits can be found below.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.