Temple student sues university for partial refunds

Several other Philadelphia-area schools are facing lawsuits of their own since classes have moved online due to the coronavirus.

Temple University is being sued over not issuing partial refunds after moving its classes online amid the COVID-19 pandemic. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

A student in the College of Public Health is demanding partial tuition refunds from Temple University in a class action lawsuit brought on Tuesday, following similar lawsuits at other Philadelphia-area schools in the wake of classes moving online amid COVID-19.

In court filings in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Brooke Ryan’s lawyers argued that while closing campus and moving classes online in mid-March was necessary, the decision deprived students of approximately 45 percent of the semester they paid for.

“While closing campus and transitioning to online classes was the right thing for [Temple] to do, this decision deprived [Ryan] and other members of the Classes from recognizing the benefits of in-person instruction, access to campus facilities, student activities, and other benefits and services in exchange for which they had already paid for,” they wrote.

Ryan could not immediately be reached for comment. Temple declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Temple has refunded students the cost of unused meal plans, on-campus housing and parking passes but has not issued partial tuition refunds for Spring 2020. The university has said it continues to provide instruction and on-campus services online, some of which are costing more than anticipated.

As a result of the refunds the university has issued and anticipating declines in enrollment and state funding, Temple is projecting a loss of approximately $45 million amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the court filing, Ryan’s lawyers argue that the online instruction format Temple has moved to is not comparable to in-person learning. 

“Common sense would dictate that the level and quality of instruction an educator can provide through an online format is lower than the level of quality and instruction that can be provided in person,” they wrote. “Moreover, the true college experience encompasses much more than just the credit hours and degrees.”

Temple has yet to respond to the lawsuit in court.

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