Law firm vows to investigate colleges nationwide. Millions of students could benefit.
- The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a chain of lawsuits against schools for failure to refund tuition money.
- Now, one law firm is taking on every college in the country.
While coronavirus continues to cause uncertainty about the fall 2020 semester, many college students are suing their schools for failing to issue sufficient tuition refunds--- if any at all.
But one law firm is taking it a step further: Hagens Berman law firm launched an investigation into all 5,300 colleges and universities in the country, representing students and parents seeking financial compensation for colleges being forced to close early in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the firm’s website, several of Hagens Berman’s class-action lawyers are teaming up with parents and students across the nation who have been forced to continue to pay for school tuition despite nationwide closures of all schools forcing students to finish online.
The investigation, launched in April, asserts that colleges are collecting millions of dollars from students who are paying for services that have gone unfulfilled.
“Despite orders from colleges and universities sending home students and closing campuses, these institutions of higher learning continue to charge for tuition and room and board,” the investigation report reads. “Collectively, these institutions are continuing to receive millions from students despite their inability to continue school as normal, or occupy campus buildings and dorms.”
They assert that students and parents must know their rights and what they are entitled to: “Hagens Berman believes that institutions of higher learning have no right to keep the room and board and tuition charges given the coronavirus outbreak and lack of options to students. We think parents and guardians, and college students paying tuition and room and board deserve compensation.”
The firm has made this opportunity free for students to join this case against their schools.
Hagens Berman spokesperson Ashley Klann told Campus Reform that the nationwide cases have all been filed:
“The cases have been filed and are awaiting responses from the defendants,” Klann said in an email to Campus Reform. “Handling large investigations are common for our firm. And according to our attorneys, students and other tuition payers are entitled to reimbursement for tuition, room and board, and possibly other expenses, to be determined during litigation."
Students told Campus Reform that they support these lawsuits.
Jack Rafferty, a student at SUNY Geneseo, said colleges already charge "too much," and refusing refunds isn’t right.
“I do support more investigation on the issue,” Rafferty said in an email to Campus Reform. “I would think it's immoral for colleges and universities, who already charge too much for tuition and room & board, to not refund students after not being on campus… Assuming most students only spent half of the spring semester on campus, and the other half of it online, I think what really goes into question is the morality of the situation.”
Rafferty added that it only makes sense to reimburse students for what they missed.
“Why wouldn't schools refund students for what they've missed in person? I think it would be better both for the livelihood of the students and for the business of the education system to be refunding students in whole for missed material and health risk of being off-campus... Students must receive what they are owed from their schools, as it is a matter of convenience and personal investment in question.”
Michael Dellanno, president of Turning Point USA at James Madison University, expressed similar sentiments in an email to Campus Reform.
“It is important that there are lawsuits and investigations into colleges for not issuing proper refunds to students,” said Dellanno. “The increasing costs of attending college have been extremely stressful for many college students and their families.”
Dellanno added that the online learning experience has been "ineffective."
“Conducting classes online may work for some students, but from my experiences, and the experiences of my peers, it is not nearly as effective in strengthening my education. Unfortunately, I do not think that we will be seeing reasonable tuition refunds for this lost semester.”
Hagens Berman has had tremendous success with lawsuits. In its 26 years, it has repossessed $260 billion and counting in settlements, including $208 million against the NCAA for student scholarships.
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