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Can Colleges Keep All The Tuition They Collected After Going Zoom-Only?

Over the last three decades, the cost of college has grown eight times faster than wages. COVID did slow down rising college tuitions, but that’s likely to be temporary.

What isn’t temporary at many schools is both the failure to fully return to in-person classroom learning and the refusal to partially reimburse students for the shift to inferior online learning.

Students suing for refunds from schools will get their day in court now that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit revived lawsuits that students filed against American University and George Washington University alleging the schools breached contracts with them.

Judges Patricia Millett and Harry Edwards pointed to the schools’ different prices for in-person versus online classes as proof the colleges inferred that tuition paid for an on-campus experience. Edwards wrote. “Plaintiffs plausibly allege that in-person education, along with on-campus educational activities, are the norm at both schools.”

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, heard oral arguments but did not participate in the opinion.

Three other federal appeals courts – the Second, Fifth and Seventh circuits – are expected to weigh in on the issue of tuition lawsuits in the next few weeks, setting up a possible Supreme Court case.

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