Another student sues AU over tuition and fee refunds

A student filed a similar class-action lawsuit against the University on Friday

Another student sues AU over tuition and fee refunds
A few students were still on campus on March 20.

Another student filed a class-action lawsuit against AU on Monday, seeking refunds for tuition and fees paid for AU students who transitioned to online classes in March.

The University moved classes online after spring break in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Monday’s lawsuit comes after School of International Service student Maaz Qureshi filed a similar lawsuit against AU on Friday.

“The online learning options being offered to American students are subpar in practically every aspect,” Monday’s lawsuit, filed by AU economics student Danish Arif, states. “Students have been deprived of the opportunity for collaborative learning and in-person dialogue, feedback, and critique.”

Arif, a Florida resident, filed his complaint in the Southern District of Florida.

His attorneys did not respond to requests for comment by phone and email.

Arif paid around $8,995 in tuition and fees for the spring semester, according to the suit. As a result of the move off campus, he could no longer participate in a crossfit class that he signed up for.

AU tuition for the spring 2020 semester costs $24,535 for full-time undergraduate students taking less than 18 credits. 

The University’s website lists tuition among the charges that “are not eligible for prorated refunds.” That list also includes health insurance, U-Pass, technology, activity, sports center and course fees. 

While AU is not refunding students for these services, the University did offer refunds for housing, meal plans and parking fees.

Students across the country are suing their colleges for partial tuition and fee refunds, and a parent of a George Washington University student sued the university on Friday in a similar pursuit.

George Zelcs, an attorney and a member of the Illinois College board of trustees, told The Eagle that he doesn’t think lawsuits seeking tuition refunds from universities will have much success.

Unless students can point to an agreement with their universities that states that students will have in-person class “100 percent of the time,” it will be difficult to make a case that universities ‘breached their contract’ by moving classes online, Zelcs said.

Zelcs also said it’s hard to measure the value of a degree.

“Generally, it’s what kind of jobs you can get for the most part,” Zelcs said. “That’s the economic damage you have to point to, and it’s such a subjective thing.”

Arif’s lawsuit alleges that the University breached its contract with those who paid students’ tuition for the spring, since AU isn’t able to provide students with in-person services they advertised before students enrolled, including face-to-face interaction with professors and peers, access to libraries and computer labs, and networking and mentorship opportunities.

AU spokesperson Stacie Burgess said the University hadn’t been served the lawsuit as of Thursday morning but is aware it was filed.

“We are reviewing the litigation. Throughout the COVID-19 situation, we have taken unprecedented steps to support our campus community and deliver our robust, high-quality education to students. During this time, students continued to have access to our expert faculty and the wide range of academic and support services that are the foundation of our educational mission,” Burgess wrote in an email to The Eagle.

saustin@theeagleonline.com

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