Students file class-action lawsuit against SCAD for tuition reimbursement

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is facing a class-action lawsuit. Students are seeking partial tuition reimbursement for the spring 2020 quarter after classes were moved online due to COVID-19.

Members of the lawsuit class include all persons who were registered for in-person SCAD spring quarter 2020 classes on March 12, 2020 and all persons who paid tuition for SCAD spring quarter 2020, according to the Bowen Painter website.

“The issue is simply paying fair value for what the students received, ” Attorney with Bowen Painter Trial Lawyers, Paul Painter said.

More than 50 SCAD students are now being represented by Bowen Painter Trial Lawyers suing the university as they seek reimbursement for tuition payments after the school closed due to coronavirus.

“We’re asking SCAD to acknowledge what they are providing through online classes is most definitely not the same caliber of instruction or experience that these students were promised when registering for in-person classes,” said Andrew Bowen, the attorney filing the suit.

“When the COVID crisis hit, SCAD took all of their classes online, and to be clear we are not critical of that. We feel like they did the right thing by shutting down classes however SCAD’s education particularly is a hands on process,” Painter said.

Students feel they’re not getting their money’s worth. They say instruction isn’t the same and they heavily rely on the resources SCAD offers on campus.

“With those not being available this quarter we have sued to say that the full tuition is not fair for those students to pay. They should be paying reduced tuition because they’re not getting the full benefit of the education,” Painter said.

Executive Director of Communication Michelle Gavin sent News 3 a statement Friday afternoon saying, “The university announced two weeks before the spring quarter started the need to move all courses and instruction online. We wanted to be sure students had that time to decide whether they wanted to take classes in a completely online environment or drop courses and receive a full tuition refund.”

The statement went on to say, “SCAD’s nationally recognized, award winning, accredited eLearning program offers many degrees completely online and has for many years. Our tuition for online and on-ground courses at SCAD has always been the same. Finally, if a student at SCAD is dissatisfied with an online course experience this spring, we have offered them the option to re-take that course for no additional tuition and in-person when on-ground courses are able to resume.”

Attorney Paul Painter said that’s not practical for all students.

“I think this comes down to the basic idea of you should charge what you’re giving. If you can’t charge a fair price for what you’re offering your students then they shouldn’t charge the full-frame,” Painter said.

SCAD still has not answered the lawsuit at this time. Bowen Painter expects to hear back within the next month or so.

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