As Colleges Close, Students Worry About Refunds for Room and Board and Tuition

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every aspect of college life, from cancelled graduation ceremonies to vacant campus centers. Unfortunately, college students and their families are now bearing the most significant financial costs as the crisis continues – and now, some colleges are even refusing to pay refunds after forcing students to vacate their dorms and campuses.

With over 200 colleges and universities across the country – both public and private – now closed down, it’s important for these institutions to prioritize the needs of their students. Room and board at a public college currently averages at $8,600 and can reach well past $12,000 for private schools, and losing part of that sum can represent a serious challenge for struggling families. In addition, students have paid fees for campus services and activities that are no longer available to them.

Are Students Entitled to Room-and-Board and Campus Services Refunds?

Students often pay for meal plans, dorm rooms, room-and-board expenditures, and other student services fees before the start of the semester. Now that college campus life has come to a sudden halt, students have every right to expect that they will be refunded for these unused services, regardless of how late into the semester it may be.

Of course, as colleges and universities face criticism for denying room-and-board and student service fee refunds to students, many have insisted that these “auxiliary fees” are crucial to staying open, both in the short term and the long term. However, even if these institutions take a financial hit for sending students home, it does not change the fact that students are entitled to recover these funds. Additionally, most colleges are still receiving tuition and other fees as classes move online.

As one higher education expert noted to CNBC, “You can’t charge for goods and services that you don’t provide.” This is why some institutions like Duke University and Amherst have already set out clear plans to repay students for their unused dining and room fees, recognizing that they do have a duty to follow the law in these matters.

Seeking Legal Remedies for Lost Refunds

For many students and their families, it may not be clear whether your college will provide you with a refund or repayment plan. If you’re unsure, our attorneys recommend reaching out to college administrators and inquiring about their current policies. From there, our class action legal team at Kershaw Talley Barlow can help you review the details of any refusal and determine if you have a case to sue for damages. Many students could be experiencing similar financial losses at this crucial moment, and it’s our goal to help hold higher learning institutions accountable across the board.

Need to speak with an experienced class action attorney? Contact our team at (916) 520-6639 today for a free consultation. We are actively taking cases related to coronavirus college closures.