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Thursday, Mar. 26th 2020

Student Rights Lawyer – Tuition and Dormitory Fees Under COVID-19

As a student rights lawyer, we have recently had cases where a student is forced to abandon his dormitory room and, facing a closed university without classes to attend, may either seek a refund of prepaid dormitory fees and prepaid tuition fees or, if only partial fees have been paid, decides to withhold payment under the concept of FORCE MAJEURE, a common law concept in contract law. 

A student rights lawyer can help you understand force majeure. For the law of force majeure to apply, the parties must have included such a clause in their contract, expressing a desire to provide a remedy for one or both of the parties in the event of unanticipated events, such as fire, explosion, flood, hurricane, and possibly epidemic and/or pandemic. Even without an explicit reference to a pandemic, courts are likely to find that a COVID-19 pandemic is an unanticipated event when, prior to the Spring 2020 term at a college or university, students either paid tuition and dormitory fees or incurred those fees, to be paid in installments.  
The most likely scenario for students evicted from university housing is that those who fully prepaid will receive a partial refund, prorated as of the date of their eviction notice. Those who had installment agreements will owe only for the days of actual occupancy.  
Regarding tuition agreements, the position taken by the university may be more fluid, particularly if online learning is offered as a complete substitute to in-person class instruction. It is quite likely that a court will view an online alternative as “substantial performance” of the educational contract.  
However, where online learning is not offered, a student who has not fully paid tuition may be able to rely on the force majeure clause to suspend further payment. For the student who has fully paid the term’s tuition, a student rights lawyer can help develop a petition for a partial refund, which is made to the Registrar. Thereafter an examination of the enrollment contract or enrollment policy should be made.  
For assistance with payment or refund issues in the current COVID-19 environment, please contact Student Rights Lawyer Clifford Cohen or Andrew Duncan. Contact information is:  
Clifford Cohen (cac@studentrightslawyers.com) or 785.979.7361
Andrew Duncan (
ad@studentrightslawyers.com) or 785.979.7361

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