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Former Student Hits University of Minnesota with Lawsuit Seeking Partial Tuition Refund


— December 7, 2020

The University of Minnesota was recently hit with a lawsuit by a former student seeking a partial refund of tuition and students fees from last spring when the school shut down campuses and shifted to online learning.


A graduate of the University of Minnesota recently filed a class-action lawsuit seeking a “partial refund of tuition fees for the 2020 spring semester because of the abrupt closure of campus and shift to online learning” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many colleges in the U.S., the University of Minnesota quickly shut down is five campuses back in March as the virus began its first surge through the country.

Rubber-banded rolls of hundred-dollar bills; image by Pictures of Money, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.
Rubber-banded rolls of hundred-dollar bills; image by Pictures of Money, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.

The suit was filed last week in Hennepin County District Court on behalf of graduate Patrick Hyatte. In the suit, Hyatte alleges the school “breached its contract with students by charging full tuition for what amounted to an online-only experience for the second half of the semester.” As a result, the suit argues that Hyatte, along with thousands of other students enrolled at the school, “should receive prorated refunds of tuition and mandatory student fees for that span of the semester.” The suit further states:

“Defendants did not provide the promised in-person educational experiences, services, and opportunities for approximately 50% of the spring 2020 semester…Defendants have unilaterally elected to shift financial risk onto its students…and unfairly force them to bear burdens of COVID-19.”

It is important to note that the university forked over around $35 million last spring to “compensate students who had to move off campus because of the pandemic with prorated room and board refunds.” Additionally, students “received partial refunds for parking contracts and mandatory student fees, which fund campus health care services, sexual misconduct prevention programs, student groups, and fitness facilities,” according to the school.

However, many students, including Hyatte, believe they deserve a larger chunk of money. In fact, last spring, 3,000 students “signed a petition…calling for a partial tuition refund to reflect the switch from an in-person education to online learning.” Despite spending $6,700 in tuition and another $1,200 in mandatory fees, the suit alleges Hyatte, an undergraduate student at the time, only received a “non-proportionate partial refund of some fees.”

At the moment, Hyatte’s legal team is seeking class-action status because there are so many students in a similar boat. Because of this, his attorneys estimate that thousands of students could end up joining the suit. The complaint further states:

“The University, through its campuses, has provided plaintiff and class members with the benefits lesser than what was contracted for…all while retaining the higher-priced tuition and mandatory fees paid for in-person, on-campus education and experiences.”

Sources:

Lawsuit seeks tuition refund for University of Minnesota students after disrupted spring semester

University of Minnesota regents revise room and board refunds to give back more money

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