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HomePolicyHarvard Wins Class Action Suit on Tuition Refunds

Harvard Wins Class Action Suit on Tuition Refunds


A federal judge has ruled in favor of Harvard University in a long-standing class action lawsuit filed by students who demanded partial tuition refunds after the school transitioned to online learning during the pandemic. 

The three plaintiffs leading the suit were unable to prove that Harvard had legally promised them in-person classes and access to campus facilities for the spring semester last year, according to US District Judge Indira Talwani.

Abraham Barkhordar, Ella Wechsler-Matthaei, and Sarah Zelasky filed the lawsuit a year ago, claiming that it was unfair for them to pay full tuition while studying online because the latter is “subpar in every aspect: lack of facilities, lack of materials, lack of efficient classroom participation, and lack of access to faculty.”

But Talwani ruled that such expectations were unreasonable, since last year ushered in a global pandemic that brought about unprecedented challenges. The federal judge also rejected Barkhordar’s request for a partial refund as he agreed to pay full tuition for online instruction.

The Harvard law student explained that the Ivy League school had coerced him into making the choice, since he felt that the only two options were to agree to online classes or delay his education. 

Paying for Quality

Several institutions also faced similar complaints from students and their parents regarding the cost of online classes, as many believe that remote learning is an inferior alternative. 

The University of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology were sued by students expressing their dissatisfaction with the quality of education they received despite having paid full tuition. 

University of Delaware students have also demanded refunds. Their suit states that they paid for in-person classes and the use of campus facilities, but the pandemic prevented them from receiving either.

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