Central Michigan University Student Files Lawsuit Over Covid-19 Refund Policies for Tuition, Fees, Room and Board

A student at Central Michigan University (CMU) filed a class action lawsuit recently in response to the University’s failure to issue adequate refunds after all in-person classes were cancelled and students were forced to leave on-campus housing in March of 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposed class of students is being represented by Bloomfield Hills and Detroit-based law firm Fink Bressack. The lawsuit alleges that CMU, Michigan’s sixth-largest university, has unfairly refused to issue satisfactory refunds for housing, meals, tuition and other fees which students prepaid for services the University is not currently providing.

“These students are not objecting to the shift to online classes or to leaving university housing. They do object to paying for the classes they are not getting and paying room and board when they no longer live on campus” said David Fink, the managing partner of Fink Bressack.

Fink Bressack is also representing students at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Western Michigan University, Lake Superior State University, Eastern Michigan University and the University of Toledo in similar lawsuits against those schools.

CMU Fails to Issue Partial Tuition Refund after Moving All Classes Online

In the face of a global pandemic, Central Michigan officials cancelled all in-person classroom instruction and switched to online courses. Despite these significant changes to students’ experience, the University has not refunded any tuition.

CMU students were at the approximate midway point of their Spring 2020 semester when the school cancelled in-person classes on March 11. Tuition for the semester at CMU started at approximately $6,255 for United States residents. The University’s failure to issue tuition refunds is inconsistent with the significant cost differences between online instruction and teaching provided in an in-person setting. More importantly, the University’s decision fails to acknowledge the significant differences in value between in-person and online classes.

“Many of these students have borrowed money to pay the high costs of an on-campus education. To add insult to injury, without a full refund, they will be paying interest for something they did not receive,” said Fink.

CMU’s Room and Board Refund Leaves Students with Significant Financial Losses

In a March 13 letter to students, the University recommended that students with a permanent place of residence not return to campus. The announcement stated that residence halls would remain open for students who needed a place to live. The school is offering a $1,200 room and board credit to students who moved out of their University housing before March 22.

Room and board fees for the Spring 2020 semester at CMU started at approximately $5,164. The University’s $1,200 credit, which is intended to compensate students for housing and meal costs, does not provide a full refund for the roughly six weeks of housing and meals costs that students lost when they were forced to leave their University housing.

Refunding Tuition, Fees and Payments for Room and Board is about Fairness

“While Central Michigan University and all universities are understandably trying to address a difficult financial situation, the lawsuit seeks to protect those who can least afford to bear this cost – the students,” said Fink. “This case is about fairness. When a landlord tells a tenant to leave the premises, should the tenant still pay rent? When a university stops providing meals to its students, is it fair to continue to charge for those meals? Is it fair to charge full tuition, while providing only online classes?”

If you are a college student, or paid or financed the education of a college student, and you believe you have not received an appropriate refund for tuition, housing, meals or fees lost because of COVID-19, contact Fink Bressack at contact@finkbressack.com or via phone at (248) 971-2500.

Fink Bressack is one of Michigan’s leading class action law firms