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Michigan Supreme Court to hear COVID-19 refund tuition case

 michigan supreme court building
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court announced Wednesday the first cases it will hear in its new session that begins next month.

One of the biggest cases on the October calendar is a lawsuit filed by students against Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University and Lake Superior State University.

The students say the transition to online classes during the early days of COVID-19 denied them the full value of the education and college experience they were promised.

“What are a student’s contractual rights when her university fails to provide instruction for which she paid tuition, fails to provide services for which she paid fees, or failure to provide housing for which she paid rent?” asked a legal brief filed with the Supreme Court by the students’ attorneys.

The students are seeking refunds of tuition, room and board and student fees.

The universities argue they did the best they could under the circumstances—and the schools’ agreements with students cover unforeseen events. Also, that students did have access to classes and faculty, were awarded credits and remained on track to graduate despite the pandemic.

The universities prevailed in lower courts, although the win in the Michigan Court of Appeals was a 2-to-1 split decision.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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