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Students file lawsuit seeking restitution for tuition, room and board

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Michigan State University students are demanding adequate restitution after they were sent home from campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and forced to take online classes, WNEM reports.

According to the lawsuit, students are seeking refunds from the university on a pro-rata basis.

“Despite the cancellation of live in-person instruction, the constructive eviction of students at the University for the remainder of the semester, and the cessation of all campus activities for at least the same time period, the University has not offered adequate refunds of tuition, room and board, and fees paid to cover the cost of certain on-campus services which will no longer be available to students,” states the lawsuit, filed by Milberg Phillips Grossman LLP, a member firm of the Coronavirus Litigation Task Force.

The firm said the lawsuit is its latest effort to stop universities from passing coronavirus financial losses on to students and their families.

According to the firm, it filed a similar lawsuit against Perdue University on Thursday, April 9.

“Michigan State’s decision to end classes is understandable from a public health perspective, but the University’s refund policy is unfair to students,” said Glenn Phillips, a partner at Milberg. “Students paid for an on-campus experience and received an off-campus experience for one-quarter of the academic year, which amounts to an educational bait-and-switch.”

According to the lawsuit, half of the Spring 2020 semester remained when MSU announced that all classes would be moved online and that students should vacate on-campus housing, for the remainder of the semester. It says the university charges approximately $5,250 per semester in room and board fees.

Students said MSU only offered a room and board credit worth $1,120 which is less than half the pro-rata amount.

The lawsuit also states that MSU has not offered a partial tuition refund reflecting the difference in the value of live instruction versus online learning. Michigan state tuition and fees cost $14,524 per semester and $39,830 per semester for in-state and non-Michigan freshmen, according to the lawsuit.

On Monday, April 20, a spokesperson for MSU said the university has not been served the lawsuit.

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