Online college not worth $15,000? The class action lawsuit against Rutgers seeks reimbursement for distance learning.

A student’s father has filed a class action lawsuit against Rutgers University, seeking reimbursement of tuition, fees and room and board after the school moved classes online to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

the combinationfiled May 20 in Middlesex County Superior Court, accuses the university of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and conversion to “continue to reap the financial benefits of millions of dollars from students.”

Colleges first announced they would hold distance learning in March, with many making the call ahead of the government. Phil Murphy ordered the closure of all schools in the state. But as the coronavirus continued to spread, eventually hitting New Jersey harder than any other state except New York, colleges canceled in-person instruction for the rest of the semester and postponed graduation ceremonies. diplomas.

The lawsuit follows a national trend, as institutions like Boston University, Vanderbilt University, Brown University and others face such charges. Another student filed a similar lawsuit against Montclair State University late last month.

While many say they understand the public health need to empty campuses, they say colleges can’t justify high prices for online education.

“We understand that universities have been placed in unforeseen circumstances and had to act quickly in the face of the pandemic, but we also believe that this is no excuse to ignore the rights of students and others paying access. campus amenities, in-person education, and all of the other benefits typically afforded to them in a typical semester,” Steve Berman, an attorney for the students, said in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed by a man identified only as John Doe, the father of a student enrolled at Rutgers in the spring 2020 semester. He claims the student missed opportunities to watch videos or listen to saved lessons because teachers sometimes sent him incompatible links to his computer. Instead, she had to rely on lecture slides with bullet points to replace the classroom experience.

When students left campus, they also lost use of university resources, such as the library, healthcare facility, and some technology, the claim says.

In March, Rutgers announced that it would provide students with pro-rated refunds for room and board, starting March 23. But according to the lawsuit, many students had to leave their dorms on March 12. The action demands that the university reimburse room and board for those days. , too much.

Rutgers charges in-state students $15,407 a year for tuition and fees, while out-of-state students pay $32,189, according to its admission website.

As some students and their families face loss of income following the state’s economic shutdown, a growing number of students have requested refunds. Earlier this month, a state senator introduced a bill that would require colleges and universities to reimburse 25% of student tuition for the spring semester.

But colleges say they are also feeling the slump, as state and federal funding dries up and they must act quickly to make their campuses as safe as possible amid the outbreak. And even if the campus buildings are empty, their maintenance remains expensive.

Many colleges are facing multimillion-dollar budget variances that could lead to layoffs as well as cuts to financial aid, course offerings, and campus services. Montclair State has already had to close its conservation school.

As schools look to fall, many are unsure if they can fully open their campuses, and some students have been hesitant to commit to pricey institutions when offers remain unclear.

A Rutgers spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Amanda Hoover can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @amandahoovernj.

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