St. John’s University is on the receiving end of a proposed class action that claims the school has wrongfully refused to refund students for the Spring 2020 semester shortened by the COVID-19 crisis.
The lawsuit alleges that after St. John’s transitioned to online-only classes and sent students home from its several New York campuses in March, the value of the education already paid for by students was reduced drastically. Nevertheless, the school has allegedly refused to issue refunds for tuition and fees that were paid for services that are no longer being provided.
Though the case concedes the unfortunate nature of the circumstances that forced St. John’s to close its campus and move to online academics, the plaintiff contests that students “did not choose this circumstance, and they certainly did not agree to pay for tuition and fees when learning remotely without the use of services for which they paid handsomely.”
“It is unfair and unlawful for St. John’s to retain tuition and fees for services not being provided and to pass the losses on to the students and their families,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit claims St. John’s students no longer have access to in-person instruction, campus facilities, activities, and networking and mentorship opportunities that were paid for through tuition and fees, including the University General Fee and the Student Government Activity Fee.
By refusing to issue refunds, St. John’s has unlawfully retained funds paid by students and their families that could otherwise be used to pay for alternative arrangements to take online classes, additional expenses, and student loans.
“St. John’s, a well-endowed, Catholic-affiliated private university, apparently expects its students and their families to shoulder the financial brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic alone, notwithstanding that students are the worst positioned to be able to do so,” the lawsuit scathes, noting that graduating students, many of whom have acquired student loan debt, are entering “the worst job market in a generation.”
Citing severalstudies, the lawsuit further claims online learning has been shown to be less effective than in-person instruction. Although St. John’s students specifically chose and paid for traditional, in-person learning, they have been deprived of the benefits of such since being forced to switch to online classes, the case says.
The lawsuit, which echoes allegations outlined in an ever-growing list of cases filed against colleges and universities for their alleged refusal to refund Spring 2020 tuition and fees, looks to cover anyone who paid tuition and fees to St. John’s for the Spring 2020 semester.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.