A Northeastern University graduate student claims in a recent class action that the college refuses to provide refunds for tuition and fees.
Plaintiff Manny Chong reportedly started at Northeastern in fall 2019 in the university’s Master of Science in Counseling Psychology program.
According to Chong, Northeastern University charges a high price for this program. The plaintiff allegedly paid more than $23,000 in tuition for the spring 2020 semester, not including additional fees.
However, despite the large payments he made to Northeastern, Chong has allegedly been denied the full benefits of his tuition.
In early March, Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun announced that all courses would be moved to an online format due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Mid-way through the Spring 2020 academic term, Defendant ceased providing any in-person instructional opportunities to Plaintiff, along with thousands of other enrolled students, yet retained the entirety of the Spring 2020 tuition monies and facility fees that Plaintiff and the other Class Members paid to Defendant with the expectation of receiving in-person instructional services for the entire academic term,” the Northeastern University class action lawsuit claims.
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Although college closures across the country help to slow the spread of the virus, Chong argues that he and other students are not getting the full benefit of their tuition and fees.
Northeastern reportedly stresses the “virtues of its campus facilities” to prospective students and encourages in person tours to showcase their academic areas, research areas, resident halls, and recreation centers. However, due to the closure of campuses, students are allegedly unable to access these services.
The Northeastern University class action lawsuit also notes that the college doesn’t even offer an online version of Chong’s master degree program. Instead, each of his spring classes were required to be taught in a campus classroom.
According to Chong, online instruction has been recognized as inferior by a variety of studies and authorities, including the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association – the very authority that provides accreditation to the psychology program that he is enrolled in.
The Association’s guidelines reportedly note that “a doctoral program delivering education and training substantially or completely by distance [online] education…could not be accredited,” for the reason that “face-to-face, in-person interaction between faculty members and students is necessary to achieve many essential components of the G&P that are critical to education and training in professional psychology, including socialization and peer interaction, faculty role modeling, and the development and assessment of competencies.”
Because of the alleged deficiencies in education and lack of access to campus resources, Chong argues that he and other students should be provided with refunds for the spring 2020 semester.
Chong seeks to represent a Class of Northeastern University students who paid tuition and attended in-person classes for spring 2020 before the transition to online classes in March.
Several other universities face a similar class action lawsuit, alleging that the colleges have failed to provide students with the refunds they are owed.
The parent of a George Washington University student recently took action against the school, alleging that his daughter is unable to access on campus classes, various facilities and other benefits due to coronavirus closures.
“Though the reasons for such closures are justified, the fact remains that such closures and cancellations present significant loss to Plaintiff and the Class Members,” the George Washington University class action lawsuit argued.
The University of Pennsylvania faces similar allegations from a student who claims that the standard of classes has significantly dropped since they transitioned to online. In addition to lacking access to the library, labs, and other facilities, students are allegedly deprived of the ability to speak one-on-one with professors and engage with learning content in the same way.
Some universities have reportedly provided credits to their students to be applied to future semesters. However, students argue that this is not sufficient.
Not only would refunds help with the present hardships associated with the coronavirus outbreaks, the credits are allegedly much smaller than the tuition and fees that students paid for the spring semester. Based on this, many students argue that they deserve significant refunds.
Chong and the proposed Class are represented by Douglas F. Hartman of Hartman Law PC and W. Clifton Holmes of The Holmes Law Group Ltd.
The Northeastern University Class Action Lawsuit is Chong v. Northeastern University, Case No. 1:20-cv-10844, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
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