Student sues Indiana University for tuition reimbursement as COVID forces shift to online courses

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A student from Indiana University is suing the school for tuition and fees reimbursement after it moved spring semester classes to an online format due to the novel coronavirus, according to a report.

Justin Spiegel, an undergraduate student studying informatics at IU’s Bloomington campus, is asking for part of his tuition money back, claiming he was unable to take advantage of the services he originally paid for, The IndyStar reported.

He filed a class-action lawsuit that would allow other IU students who were enrolled for the 2020 spring semester to come forward and join the effort, as well, according to the report.

Spiegel, who is an Illinois resident, filed the suit in Monroe County Circuit Court Wednesday, according to The Star. The suit was divided into two groups: Those who paid tuition and then were denied in-person classes, and those who paid for campus services such as health care, which they could no longer access.

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“In the midst of a global pandemic that has wreaked havoc on our entire way of life, Indiana University has acted responsibly to keep our students safe and progressing in their education,” university spokesman Chuck Carney said.

He added: “We are deeply disappointed that this lawsuit fails to recognize the extraordinary efforts of our faculty, staff, and students under these conditions while it seeks to take advantage in this time of state and national emergency.”

This is not the first action of its kind to rock the higher education system.

Students at more than 25 U.S. universities who have been sent home to learn online during the pandemic are filing lawsuits against their schools, claiming they're not getting the quality of education they were promised.

Some colleges have already refunded students. St. Michael's College, a liberal arts school in Vermont, announced Sunday it would refund $3.5 million in residence fee revenue.

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Several American universities were also under fire last month after it was revealed they would be receiving federal funds, despite having large endowments and a wealthy alumni network.

Schools such as Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University all received millions of dollars in coronavirus bailout money. After garnering negative headlines, Harvard University announced it would not seek or accept any federal funding.

Fox News' Bradford Betz and Victor Garcia contributed to this report