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CUNY students seeks partial refund of tuition and fees as a result of COVID-19 closure

A Baruch College student filed a proposed class action on behalf of students in the City of New York University system who paid full price in tuition and fees during the Spring 2020 semester but were not reimbursed when the school closed and limited academic services because of the Novel Coronavirus.

“Colleges do not get to keep students’ money when they were unable to provide the services,” says Jeffrey K. Brown of Leeds Brown Law, P.C. who represents the Named Plaintiff C. Livian in the lawsuit filed on May 28, 2020 in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. “These schools should be held to the highest standard, especially when students struggle to keep up with the increased cost of tuition and fees, and then the school is not able to provide those services because of Covid-19. Students should not be left holding the bag.”

The action alleges that the Named Plaintiff paid nearly $3,900.00 in tuition and fees during the Spring 2020 semester, but only received online classes without access to “in-person education experiences, services, and opportunities.”

According to Lenard Leeds, a partner at Leeds Brown Law, there are currently over 100 pending cases against schools for similar claims across the country and that students are bonding together to remedy the situation.

“These lawsuits demonstrate that students are tired of being taken advantage of,” according to Lenard Leeds. “These students, like any other citizen, are entitled to what they paid for. If the colleges could not provide services because of the Covid-19 situation, then they should reimburse the students. It’s as simple as that.”

According to the lawsuit, New York State residents like the Plaintiff pay more than $3,700 in tuition per semester for full-time undergraduate studies before room, board, fees, and books. The school refused to provide a proportionate refund on tuition and fees, despite the fact that they shut down services on March 11, 2020 because of Covid-19.

“The right thing is to partially refund the money to the students for services the school was not able to provide,” said Michael A. Tompkins of Leeds Brown Law, P.C., noting that tuition rates have soared 260 percent and doubled the price of inflation since 1963 – according to the National Center for Education Statistics. “Student feel like paying tuition is tough enough, especially if the schools are requiring them to pay for services they did not receive.”

According a recent study of over 1,200 college students at 45 colleges, over 75% of college students said that online education was disappointing and failed to meet their expectations. According to OneClass.com, “As campuses began shutting down in the middle of March, this early data reveals that for the overwhelming majority of students, the transition [to online learning] has not gone well.” Professors within these institutions have criticized the transition, as stated by NYU clinical professor in a NYTimes.com op-ed, “Not surprisingly, the experience for both students and faculty has left much to be desired.”

Leeds Brown Law, P.C. has filed and settled dozens of class action cases, including cases supporting college students and low wage workers. Since 2015, Leeds Brown has advocated for unpaid interns to receive compensation for their work at prominent businesses, including fashion houses and media conglomerates. Leeds Brown Law, P.C. has offices in New York City and Long Island and can be reached at 516.873.9550 or www.leedsbrownlaw.com.