College students sue universities, ask for refunds over online learning

Students at the University of Oregon and Oregon State are filing proposed class action lawsuits demanding a refund, saying they didn't get what they paid for when the schools transition to online instruction.

Now, the three students involved in the lawsuits want their money back.

In court documents, the students argue they should not be paying for campus facilities and other in-person activities when they couldn't access them.

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"The fact that the schools couldn't have foreseen it, it's understandable," said lawyer Steve Berman. "But it's really not a defense. I mean, they promised and collected money for in person education. They didn't deliver it."

In a statement to ABC News, the University of Oregon said it will vigorously defend the case.

"Despite what the lawsuit suggests, the university's costs for delivering instruction have not decreased as a result of the pandemic," the statement said. "In fact, our costs have increased due to a variety of new technology and infrastructure investments needed to provide quality instruction and to protect our campus community's health and safety."

Oregon State is also disputing the allegations.

The Spring semester of 2020 was significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 1,300 colleges and universities across the county canceling in-person classes or shifting to online-only instruction.

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The average cost of public colleges in the U.S. ranges from roughly $10,000 to $20,000.

"What my clients hope to recover is the difference between tuition that was promised and the value of a online experience," Berman said.

More than 200 similar lawsuits have been filed.

"As these cases progress, and news gets out of courts allowing these cases to go forward, we continue to get inquiries from new schools," Berman said.

It's unclear how much money back these students are asking for.

The University of Oregon argues that they've already refunded students for a number of services and amenities that weren't available specifically because of directives.
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