COVID-19 Injury Lawyers

Students Seek Legal Action: COVID-19 Refunds For Breach of Contract

Posted November 9, 2020

In March, students from large state institutions to small private universities were forced to pack up their belongings and transition rather abruptly into online learning as a result of COVID-19 precautions to stop the spread. Now nationwide class-action lawsuits are being filed for partial reimbursement of tuition and fees as a result of these institutions not providing the full higher education experience. If successful, the costs could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.

While students do not harbor ill-feelings towards their institutions for the mandated shutdowns, the big concern has been who must shoulder the cost of these changes? According to a lawsuit filed by students at the University of San Diego (USD), “They (the students) paid for the robust education and full experience of academic life on USD’s campus; remote online learning cannot provide the same value as in-person education.”

This sentiment has been exacerbated by students at institutions of higher education where there are price differences between in-person courses and those taking online classes. At USD, a master of science in health care informatics costs $1,580 per unit of on-campus classes where the online version is only $925 per unit.

Because the transition from in-person to online education meant a variation of the number of instruction hours in some cases, coupled with the lack of a “college experience” including on-campus amenities like libraries, gyms, study rooms, internships, etc., students don’t deny their tuition needs to be paid–but how much is the question.

Breach of Contract Due to Tuition Amounts

Many universities promise a full collegiate experience–but when a global pandemic halts business as usual, all parties may feel that they’ve been wrong. While this was the consensus, students are now petitioning for court action for breach of contract against their places of higher education for failing to provide the agreed-upon service in exchange for the agreed-upon tuition.

Many institutions have already provided students partial refunds for room and board for the difficult spring 2020 semester. But with schools still following online and hybrid models, what can be done for those tuition funds that aren’t being used to their prescribed purpose?

Nationwide, legal action has resulted in mixed results from the courts given the uncertainty the novel coronavirus has put on the entire country. For those students who felt that their voices were not heard, they turned to the CARES Act funding universities received to help students through the crisis questioning why universities needed their full tuition amount when they received federal stimulus funding.

The tuition debate roars on, with students, especially those in their final year of education, asking, how they are expected to pay for full tuition when they fear upon graduation they won’t be able to secure employment.

Questions like this and many more are expected to arise as COVID-19 continues to rise and fall around the nation.


If your university or college fails to adequately prepare for the complications of COVID-19, including adjusting the rates of tuition or fails to provide you with the reimbursement you should receive as a result of a breach of contract, you need legal assistance.

If you have been failed by your university, contact us today. Your education matters.

Posted in COVID-19.