The University of New Haven faces a proposed class action wherein an undergraduate claims the school has refused to offer tuition and fee refunds for the Spring 2020 semester in which it transitioned classes online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the case, the Connecticut university’s March 2020 decision to close campus and hold classes remotely deprived students of the benefits of on-campus enrollment, access to campus facilities, student activities and other services for which they already paid tuition and fees.
Per the case, the school has either refused to provide reimbursement for tuition and fees or has provided inadequate refunds that fail to compensate students for the services not provided.
The plaintiff argues he and other students specifically chose to enroll in the University of New Haven’s in-person educational program, the benefits of which the defendant touts on its website. In paying tuition for the school’s in-person academic experience, students expected to receive benefits that went “beyond basic academic instruction,” including face-to-face interaction with peers and mentors; access to computer labs, study rooms, laboratories, and libraries; student activities; exposure to a diverse community; social development and independence; hands-on learning; and networking and mentorship opportunities.
As the COVID-19 crisis began to spread, however, the University of New Haven announced on March 9 that all in-person classes were canceled. Thereafter, the plaintiff and others were “forced from campus and deprived of the benefit of the bargain for which [they] paid,” the lawsuit alleges.
By March 14, students had been evicted and the school began to close all on-campus facilities, the suit relays, estimating students missed out on roughly 50 percent of the scheduled in-person spring semester.
Although the University of New Haven continued to offer “some level of academic instruction” after transitioning to online classes, students were deprived of the benefits of on-campus enrollment that were touted by the defendant and for which they contracted and paid, the case avers. Per the complaint, the defendant breached its contracts with students by failing to provide the contracted-for services without offering “any refund whatsoever” of their pre-paid tuition and mandatory fees.
Moreover, the lawsuit says that although the school received more than $4.6 million in federal funds under the CARES Act, the defendant has allocated only $2.3 million—the “bare minimum required by law”—to student relief grants while announcing that it will “keep the other $2.3 million for itself.”
The 34-page breach-of-contract case follows hundreds of other proposed class actions filed against universities and colleges nationwide over their alleged refusal to offer tuition and fee refunds after transitioning to online learning in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.