A proposed class action claims Touro College and University System has refused to issue refunds for tuition and fees paid for the Spring 2020 semester that was transitioned online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the lawsuit in New York federal court, Touro’s response to the crisis in shutting down its New York, California, Nevada and Illinois campuses and transitioning all in-person classes to a remote format in March 2020 deprived students of the benefits of on-campus enrollment, access to campus facilities, participation in activities and other benefits and services for which they paid tuition and fees.
Nevertheless, Touro has refused to reimburse tuition and fee payers for the services the university failed to provide, or provided “inadequate and/or arbitrary disbursement” that falls short of fully compensating proposed class members for their losses, the case argues.
Touro, which has approximately 19,000 students across 35 schools in four countries, recognizes the “inherent difference” between its in-person and online programs, the suit says, noting that the university’s online degree program through Touro University Worldwide costs significantly less than its other programs that offer bachelor’s degrees through in-person classes.
“Notably, Defendant markets Touro University Worldwide as an ‘affordable option’ when compared to the costs of tuition at other schools of Defendant,” the complaint states.
Tuition for Touro’s in-person programs is meant to cover various services and benefits beyond mere academic instruction, the lawsuit says, including face-to-face interaction with students and faculty; access to campus facilities, such as libraries, computer labs, study rooms and laboratories; student activities and sports; exposure to a diverse community; social development and independence; hands-on learning and experimentation; and networking and mentorship opportunities.
After Touro transitioned classes online in early March in response to the COVID-19 crisis, students, the suit avers, were deprived of the benefits and services for which they paid tuition and fees, including a “Life Experience” fee, “Campus Fee,” “Tech Fee” and “Materials Fee.”
Despite Touro’s apparent failure to provide “all substantial and material parts of the basis upon which Defendant can charge the tuition and fees it charges,” the university has refused to offer “any refund whatsoever” for tuition and fees, the case alleges.
The lawsuit echoes anongoing trendof putative class action litigation against colleges and universities nationwide who’ve allegedly failed and/or refused to refund students after classes were transitioned online amid the COVID-19 crisis.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.