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Yale University student sues over 'inferior' online classes during pandemic, seeks tuition refund

Written by on August 5, 2020

A Yale University student wants his tuition reimbursed because he received an inferior education once the Ivy League institution shifted to virtual classes during the coronavirus pandemic, according to his federal complaint.

Filed in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Connecticut, the lawsuit filed by student Jonathan Michel alleges that Yale’s virtual classes “cannot replace the comprehensive educational experience promised” in exchange for the full price of tuition, the Hartford Courant reported. Michel’s attorneys allege the cancellation of in-person classes “effectively breached or terminated the contract” Yale established with its students.

Michel is seeking a partial reimbursement of tuition and other school-related fees for the spring semester amounting to roughly $55,000. Yale representative said the school will fight the allegations in court.


“Yale acted to protect the community by moving quickly and effectively to online classes, which allowed students to complete the semester safely,” Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart said in a statement. “Yale also provided students with prorated refunds for the room and board that they were unable to use.”

The lawsuit is seeking class-action status for other students alleging a similar interruption to their learning experience during the pandemic. Yale shifted to virtual classes on March 23 and closed the campus as the pandemic worsened.

Yale “is attempting to replace the irreplaceable — on-campus life at an elite university — with ‘virtual learning’ via online classes, and is attempting to pass off this substitute educational experience as the same as or just as good as fully participating in the university’s academic life,” the lawsuit says.


College students have filed dozens of lawsuits against institutions in recent weeks seeking partial or full reimbursement of their tuition.

Yale announced in July that it would allow a limited number of its undergraduate students on campus this fall. Students who aren’t able to live on campus “are encouraged to continue their Yale education remotely,” the school said. Most classes for the upcoming school year are expected to be conducted remotely.

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