MSU Students File COVID-19 Tuition, Room, Board, and Fees Lawsuit
Michigan State University students are demanding adequate restitution after they were sent home from campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and forced to take online classes. They seek refunds from the University on a pro-rata basis.
“Despite the cancellation of live in-person instruction, the constructive eviction of students at the University for the remainder of the semester, and the cessation of all campus activities for at least the same time period, the University has not offered adequate refunds of tuition, room and board, and fees paid to cover the cost of certain on-campus services which will no longer be available to students,” states the lawsuit, filed by Milberg Phillips Grossman LLP, a member firm of the Coronavirus Litigation Task Force.
The lawsuit is Milberg’s latest effort to stop universities from passing coronavirus financial losses on to students and their families. Milberg filed a similar lawsuit against Purdue University on April 9.
“Michigan State’s decision to end classes is understandable from a public health perspective, but the University’s refund policy is unfair to students,” said Glenn Phillips, a partner at Milberg. “Students paid for an on-campus experience and received an off-campus experience for one-quarter of the academic year, which amounts to an educational bait-and-switch.”
Half of the Spring 2020 semester remained when Michigan State announced on March 11 that all classes would be moved online, and that students should vacate on-campus housing, for the remainder of the semester. Michigan State charges approximately $5,250 per semester in room and board fees. Yet the University only offered students a room and board credit worth $1,120—less than half the pro-rata amount.
In addition, Michigan State has not offered a partial tuition refund reflecting the difference in value of live instruction versus online learning. Michigan state tuition and fees cost $14,524 per semester and $39,830 per semester for in-state and non-Michigan freshmen, respectively. Brookings research found that taking a course online reduces students’ average grades and average GPA, as well as increases the probability that a student will drop out of school.
The Coronavirus Litigation Task Force was formed in March to investigate suspected wrongdoing related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its focus includes insufficient refund lawsuits, business interruption lawsuits, false claims and price gouging lawsuits, negligence lawsuits, and other COVID-19 lawsuits. The Task Force will announce additional coronavirus litigation in the weeks ahead.