Can I take my university to court for tuition refund if I recieved no credits due to a medical emergency?

UPDATED: Feb 17, 2011

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Can I take my university to court for tuition refund if I recieved no credits due to a medical emergency?

I attended a private university for the Fall 2010 year as an incoming freshman. On Halloween I had an emergency medical surgery, due to multiple complications I was unable to attend classes. Of the 5 classes I was in, I only received credit for 2 of them. Tuition was $10,800 for the semester. Is there any way to take action in order to get some of the tuition back?

Asked on February 17, 2011 under Business Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Possibly. First, note that if the agreements you have with the school--i.e. the terms under which you attend and take classes--specifically say that it is the student's responsibity (or risk) to attend classes and that if the student does not, he or she does not receive credits or a refund--that term will be upheld: a person can contract to not have recourse or the rights to a refund.

If there is no such term, then you *might* have grounds to receive compensation or a return of your money based on the doctrine of impossibility: people are sometimes not held to their contracts if some event beyond their control comes up and makes it objectively impossible to carry on. In this case, the argument would be that since it became impossible for you to attend, the school can't charge you for the classes--though obviously, if offered any reasonable compensation or recourse (such as a partial credit, free tuition for the next semester, etc.) you should think hard about accepting it rather than trying to fight to win it all back.

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