CIEE Study-Abroad Programs Limit Covid-19 Refunds Class Action

CIEE, Inc. and the Council on International Educational Exchange provide college-level study abroad programs. When Covid-19 required the closing of overseas campus or required students to return to their homes, classes were moved online and students were able to receive credit, but they lost the “abroad” part of the programs. Despite this, the organization(s) have refused to refund students for tuition, housing, and other expenses they paid for the programs.

The class for this action is all persons who paid tuition, fees, or room and board charges to CIEE but did not get the bargained-for, in-person instruction, internship, international experience, activities, or room and board in 2020.

Plaintiff Annie Zhao lives in Texas and is a member of the Harvard College Class of 2021. She signed up with CIEE, which the complaint describes as “America’s largest provider of study abroad collegiate educational programs[,]” for a Spring 2020 program at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

The fees she paid included educational programs, housing, activities, and services. She paid for the program “because of the opportunity to live and study abroad in Europe and to interact in[ ]person with other cultures, faculty, and peers.”

According to the complaint, CIEE’s mission statement is “To help people gain understanding acquire knowledge, and develop skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world by offering the most comprehensive, relevant, and valuable exchange programs available.” Its website touts the benefits of “Cultural Immersion.”

Unfortunately, the program was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The complaint does not quarrel with the decision to cancel. However, it says, “None of the CIEE facilities, housing, activities, and experiences in Amsterdam are available to [Zhao] from her home in Texas. The same is true for all similarly situated Plaintiffs, compared to their study abroad locations.” There’s another complication: “Plaintiffs opportunities for education, collaboration, and interaction are also limited in this online format by the difficulties of scheduling around multiple time zones.”

CIEE students are not the only ones affected: “CIEE interns have likewise suffered the loss of payments made to CIEE for services not received, including international experiences, room and board, activities, excursions, and other services.”

Initially, CIEE said it would pay up to $500 in airline change fees for student return flights if they provided a receipt. The complaint alleges, “For students participating in CIEE’s ‘Open Campus Block 3’ program, which it said would be offered exclusively online, CIEE’s policy is to offer a full refund for any student who canceled by March 31, 2020, and a 20% refund for all other students.” The company did not explain why students of this program were offered 20% refunds while others were offered no refunds.

The complaint alleges breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

CIEE Study-Abroad Programs Limit Covid-19 Refunds Complaint

July 6, 2020

CIEE, Inc. and the Council on International Educational Exchange provide college-level study abroad programs. When Covid-19 required the closing of overseas campus or required students to return to their homes, classes were moved online and students were able to receive credit, but they lost the “abroad” part of the programs. Despite this, the organization(s) have refused to refund students for tuition, housing, and other expenses they paid for the programs.

CIEE Study-Abroad Programs Limit Covid-19 Refunds Complaint

Case Event History

CIEE Study-Abroad Programs Limit Covid-19 Refunds Complaint

July 6, 2020

CIEE, Inc. and the Council on International Educational Exchange provide college-level study abroad programs. When Covid-19 required the closing of overseas campus or required students to return to their homes, classes were moved online and students were able to receive credit, but they lost the “abroad” part of the programs. Despite this, the organization(s) have refused to refund students for tuition, housing, and other expenses they paid for the programs.

CIEE Study-Abroad Programs Limit Covid-19 Refunds Complaint
Tags: Covid-19 Related, Education, Incomplete Refund