Pitt petitions court to dismiss tuition refund case from last spring


Thomas Yang | Senior Staff Photographer

The Cathedral of Learning alongside the Mary Schenley Memorial Fountain.

By Rebecca Johnson, News Editor

Pitt submitted a document to a federal court on Thursday asking that it dismiss a case from last spring where students were seeking tuition refunds after classes shifted online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the case, six plaintiffs want prorated refunds for tuition and fees for themselves and “all others similarly situated” starting on March 16 when Pitt shut down. The University issued prorated refunds for housing and dining fees for students who moved out of on-campus housing on or before April 3. Claire Hickey and Akira Kirkpatrick, former students in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, originally filed the civil suit last May in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

In the Thursday document, Pitt pointed to the case Smith vs. University of Pennsylvania which partially ruled in Penn’s favor on Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Timothy Savage concluded that Penn did not breach its contract regarding tuition payments. But the ruling does allow Penn students to continue to pursue a claim over fees for on-campus services, such as computer labs and students health services.

The students alleged Pitt breached its contract with students by failing to provide in-person and on-campus live education, as well as failing to provide access to services and facilities funded by the University’s mandatory fees after mid-March. They alleged that the University failed to follow through on the contract, in part by moving classes online, and has “retained monies paid by Plaintiffs and the Class for a live in-person education and access to these services.”