College students clamor for tuition refunds after coronavirus shutters campuses

James Hill and Arielle Mitropoulos:

Grainger Rickenbaker was more than halfway through his freshman year at Drexel University in Philadelphia when the novel coronavirus pandemic forced the school to clear its dormitories and suspend in-person instruction indefinitely.

Now at home in South Carolina, the real estate management major is taking his spring courses remotely and finding the experience lacking.

“There are two classes that aren’t even using the live-lecture format,” Rickenbaker said. “It almost feels that I’m just tuning in for a podcast. It doesn’t really feel like the full classroom experience.”

Drexel administrators informed students last month they wouldn’t be on the hook for housing bills or meal plans while the campus was closed. But there would be no discounts to normal tuition rates, the university said, despite the shift to e-learning, which is ordinarily offered to undergraduates at up to 40 percent less per credit, according to rates posted on the school website.