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Columbia University Pays $12.5 Million in COVID-19 Refund Settlement

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

Columbia University has agreed to pay $12.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought on by students claiming the university failed to refund fees when classes moved online in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the United States, Columbia as well as most other universities, shifted to remote learning in order to stop the spread of the virus.

The university will refund $8.56 million in fees for student activities and health services, in addition to the use of its gyms, libraries, and other facilities. They will pay an additional $4 million to avoid all risks of further litigation.

Roy Willey, a lawyer representing the students, stated that the $8.56 million was 100% of the money the university still owed. Previously, Columbia had given a partial refund to its students.

Throughout this entire litigation, Columbia has denied any wrongdoing on their part. In a press statement, Columbia said “the pandemic has imposed serious challenges on sustaining the teaching, research, patient care and public service at the Core of Columbia’s mission. Throughout this period, we have been committed to meeting the needs of our students.”

Currently, at least 261 other lawsuits are being filed against other U.S. universities over their alleged failure to refund tuition and fees.

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