Students Suing Colleges Over Campus and Tuition Fees During Shutdown

By Andreas Fanos on May 15, 2020

The coronavirus has rapidly shifted how schools and colleges are run for the time being and possibly for the future. Many Universities have mandated students to go home as they moved classes online in the wake of COVID-19. Although it was the right thing to do with safety being the utmost priority as we learn more about the virus and the number of ways it can attack the body, students have taken action against colleges by filing lawsuits due to disagreements over tuition and campus fees.

According to an article from, two New Jersey students’ parents have taken action by suing Maryland State Universities for partial tuition reimbursement. According to the details, the main reason is due to the idea that online courses are not the same kind of quality as in-class instruction, and therefore, should be compensated differently. The parents make the claim that college students can not receive the same kind of assistance such as being on campus. Some of these devoid resources can be the use of campus libraries, in-person help from a professor, the ability to study in groups on campus, or scheduling tutoring sessions on campus.

Even though the parents state they have been credited with some kind of refund amount, it does not equal the value for losing all of these mentioned resources. Another student majoring in film sued the university over the charged fees because the kind of major requires in-person feedback, which can not be done at this time.

Photo credit to photographer Stanley Morales /

According to an article from Fox News, college students from 25 different U.S. Universities have filed lawsuits against their respected schools over tuition and campus charges. These lawsuits are similar to that of the prior with the individuals crediting the different experiences not being up to par with the pricing. Some colleges have already credited students fairly by the new standards but others have not been willing to slash charges or give the appropriate kind of refunds.

One of the colleges that refunded the students is St. Michael’s College. They refunded the students for the campus fee as the college president agreed with the students. Even though it was a costly decision, they believed it was the right thing to do during a time like this. Many can argue the college experience hinges on having a dorm, walking around campus to socialize in groups, studying at on-campus facilities, and visiting professors for advice or help during office hours.

Even though St. Michael’s College credited the students, other universities are not in lockstep with students, arguing that they are still learning by the same professors and the quality is the same. One of their reasons is students are still being given the appropriate credits to go towards their coursework.

However, one student at Drexel University named Grainger Rickenbaker states it is not the same experience as it would be on campus. For example, he shared his thoughts that some courses are simply being taught through recorded videos. In addition, lawyers have vouched for their clients that services not being used should not be included on the bill. This could mean simply for the fact that students are not in dorms or using on-campus facilities. They believe it is strictly over a matter of fairness.

Universities in the U.S. will have many questions to answer in the coming months. Although professors and colleges have been able to adapt to online learning, some students feel discouraged and wronged by being charged the same kind of bill. Is an online education still the same quality as in-person instruction? Should all colleges credit campus fees and change charges for tuition?

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