Covid-19 is ripping off students

It’s bad enough that few colleges and universities refunded tuition when they sent students home last spring because of Covid-19, but even worse that many are charging full freight now to have them on campus without real classrooms (“The Coronavirus College Scam,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 2).

The matter is more outrageous because administrators and professors are being paid in full despite the fact they refuse to have contact with the students they are supposed to be serving.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these schools find themselves at the other end of a class action lawsuit for fraud.

If I were these parents, I’d have my child take a leave of absence and find a job.  Sitting in front of a screen while paying full tuition is outrageous.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

2 Replies to “Covid-19 is ripping off students”

  1. Parents/students might have a legal claim for Spring 2020 tuition, but seems that for Fall 2020 the parents/students knew upfront that covid was happening and that the colleges would be making adjustments. At that point, the parents/students had the choice to continue or take a leave of absence. The parents/students who opted to continue were implicitly agreeing to whatever $/instruction arrangements the college was offering.

    An underlying legal issue might be the extent to which a college penalizes a student for taking a leave of absence. If the college does not guarantee the student re-admission following the leave of absence, then the college is putting significant pressure on the student to opt to continue rather than opt to take a leave of absence. At that point, the college’s “Hey, it was your choice and you opted to continue” argument gets a bit shaky.

    I have sympathy for both the colleges and the parents/students. Covid is creating huge problems — $ and otherwise — for everyone involved. First-year law school contract law would probably treat covid as an event that was not within the reasonable contemplation of either party that would probably trigger a right for either party to rescind the contract. Of course, there could be difficult legal issues re how promptly either party would have to act in order to take advantage of the right-to-rescind as well as re what each party would get if the contract were rescinded.

    Bet that from now on, most colleges will include some kind of “these are our rights and your rights if there is a health emergency” clause in their acceptance letters and/or annual tuition letters.

    Would make an excellent Contracts I final exam question.


  2. Labor Lawyer: Covid-19 is pitting parents against administrators. Going forward, the latter will surely include a clause that exempts them from lawsuits for unprecedented events such as the pandemic. But for now at least, I foresee class action lawsuits demanding refund of tuition or a reduction.


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