USD students weigh lawsuit against university over pandemic tuition prices

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SAN DIEGO – More than 100 students at the University of San Diego have expressed interest in bringing a class action lawsuit against the institution over the price of tuition as classes shifted online amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We had 127 students as of Sept. 16,” said Yvette Golan, a Washington D.C.-based attorney.

Golan argues USD, which switched to online courses in March, has had a “basic breach of contract” with students on the price of classes held online and away from the campus.

Her law firm is also pursuing lawsuits against six other universities including Yale and Northwestern.

“If you pay ahead of time for something and you don’t get that thing, you are entitled to a refund,” Golan said. “Same thing here. Think about chemistry, for instance. They pay so they can learn how to do a chemistry experiment. Now they are going online and they are not getting the same educational value of watching someone else do that experiment.”

The lawsuit points out that in the past, USD charged 41% less for an online classes. Yet, students in the spring and summer sessions paid full price, around $25,000 for the semester.

In a statement, a university spokeswoman said USD “does not share specific information with the media about pending litigation.”

“We will respond to the allegations through the legal process,” the spokeswoman said.

Asked about the litigation Monday, USD senior Jake Salaheddine said he potentially was interested in joining the lawsuit.

“I have a lot of friends last semester that struggled to figure out why they are paying for tuition when they are not getting the experience USD promised from the get-go,” Salaheddine said.

Sophomore Leah Friendman said she hopes tuition will drop in the spring if online courses continue. She also understands why USD may be charging full price now.

“The professors are doing the work,” she said. “They are probably doing even more work right now going online and so the school has being putting in a lot of effort to online. So, I can see why the tuition hasn’t been cut either.”

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