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ISU responds to lawsuit over fee refunds, claiming it ‘strives’ to be fair

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NORMAL (WEEK) - Responding to a federal lawsuit, Illinois State University claims it strives to provide fair refunds of the mandatory fees students paid for the semester interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The university issued a statement after two freshman, Bailey Thiele and Jack Moylan, filed a class action lawsuit claiming ISU didn't refund enough of the mandatory fees for the recently-completed semester.

Students were told not to return to campus after their spring break in March. They finished their coursework online.

"In refunding approximately $3 million in total fees to students, the University considered which services were still being offered to students through alternative means, such as counseling and health services, and ongoing infrastructure costs funded by fees," said spokesperson Eric Jome in a prepared statement.

"The University strives to provide fair refunds for all of its students in this challenging time," Jome also said.  

In the lawsuit, filed May 21, Thiele said she paid $1,384.20 in mandatory fees for the 15 hours she took during spring semester. Moylan said he paid $1,107.36 in fees for the 12 hours he took during the semester.

ISU President Larry Dietz announced in April it was issuing a partial refund of mandatory fees at $12 per credit hour, or $180 for a student taking 15 hours.

"While closing ISU’s campus and transitioning to online classes was the proper response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this decision deprived Plaintiffs and the other members of the Class from recognizing the benefits of access to campus facilities, student activities, and other benefits and services for which they had already paid fees," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit went on to say, "ISU’s refund reflects a 13% reimbursement of mandatory fees for a semester in which Plaintiff and other Class Members were deprived of access to the services funded by the fees for over 50% of the semester."

In seeking class action status, Thiele and Moylan said they're filing the suit on behalf of "all people who paid fees for or on behalf of students enrolled in classes at ISU for the Spring 2020 semester.

Howard Packowitz

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