As the coronavirus started sweeping across the U.S. in March, universities moved classrooms online and locked the doors. Many students, however, don’t feel they are getting a return on their tuition investment and have launched lawsuits demanding reimbursement.
Although some schools have issued refunds for room and board, most are not returning tuition money, according to a Wednesday (May 6) report in CNBC. Parents and students charge that the online learning experience offered by universities pales in comparison to in-person classes and doesn’t have the same monetary value.
Class-action lawsuits have been filed against more than 25 private and public universities, including Ivy League schools like Brown, Columbia, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania, according to a report in the Associated Press on Monday (May 4). Public universities named in the lawsuits also include big, well-known schools like Boston University, Michigan State, Purdue and the University of Colorado, Boulder.
By way of example, one complaint charges that some professors at the University of California, Berkeley, are not even doing online classes and instead are merely uploading assignments.
“You cannot keep money for services and access if you aren’t actually providing it,” Roy Willey, a lawyer for the Anastopoulo Law Firm in South Carolina, told the AP. His firm is representing students in over 12 suits. “If we’re truly going to be all in this together, the universities have to tighten their belts and refund the money back to students and families who really need it.”
Aside from the growing trend of lawsuits, universities are also grappling with how to best predict cash flow as deposits for the 2020 fall semester start coming in.
Flywire CEO Mike Massaro discussed in a PYMNTS interview on Wednesday (May 6) that higher education is facing a unique predicament that makes for challenging cash flow management and forecasting in the time of the coronavirus.