UW student files lawsuit against school, seeks repayment for tuition, fees amid COVID-19 pandemic

UW student files lawsuit against school, seeks repayment for tuition, fees amid COVID-19 pandemic

Chopper 7 flew over the University of Washington quad as tourists and locals took in the cherry blossoms

A University of Washington graduate student filed a lawsuit against the school, the Board of Regents and the president, seeking repayment for tuition and other fees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawsuit accuses the university of “breach of contract and unjust enrichment,” according to a press release from the law firm Hagens Berman.

The complaint reads, “Despite sending students home, transitioning to online instruction, and closing its campuses, University of Washington continued to charge for tuition and/or fees as if nothing changed, continuing to reap the financial benefit of millions of dollars from students.”

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The press release states that “the winter and spring quarters at UW did not meet the university’s standards, nor its promises to tuition-payers.”

The school went online only classes during winter quarter when the pandemic began, and did not return to in-person courses in the spring.

Victor Balta, senior director of media relations for the university, provided KIRO 7 with the following statement.

"We understand and share the frustration and disappointment that students and their families are experiencing as we navigate the unprecedented limitations presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic required an immediate shift to online instruction for the final two weeks of the winter quarter. The move to largely remote operations was consistent with orders from the Governor restricting the types of activities that were allowable at institutions of higher education and elsewhere, in the interest of public health and safety. The University was clear in its communications with students and their families that the entire spring quarter, summer sessions – and the coming fall quarter – would continue to require that the vast majority of classes and experiences would be remote, providing students time to reconsider their enrollment without penalty. The University will not provide any comment on pending litigation.

The move to online instruction has actually increased our investment in instructional costs. We continue to pay faculty and staff for their work, and at the same time are making existing and new services available online and investing in new technological capabilities as we serve students remotely and support the UW community in these extraordinary times."