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RPI settles COVID-19 tuition lawsuit for $6.5 million

Late last week President Martin A. Schmidt ’81 announced that Rensselaer has settled a class action lawsuit related to tuition payments during the pandemic for $6.5 million. The lawsuit, Ford v. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was introduced by Morgan Ford ’22G, an undergraduate student at the time, back in April 2020 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. The suit alleged that the transition to online learning deprived Ford, and other similar students, of “recognizing the benefits of in-person instruction, housing, meals, access to campus facilities, student activities, and other benefits and services.” The suit requested that RPI disgorge “amounts wrongfully obtained for tuition, fees, on-campus housing, and meals” that Ford had already paid.

Nine days after the Ford suit was filed, a second suit was filed by Ethan Deecher ’22 and Grady Habicht ’22. The second suit was combined into the Ford suit in August 2020.

In President Schmidt’s communication, he mentioned that over 400 similar lawsuits have been filed against universities across the country, many of which have settled to avoid the cost of litigation. Schmidt stated the settlement “is a more productive alternative to a lengthy legal process and enables Rensselaer to move forward with a focus on serving our students.”