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Can I refuse to pay the tuition bill if the school is not acting fairly?

San Francisco, CA |

I just withdrew from a course in a private university. It's an 8-week course and I withdrew in the 2nd day of week 5 after taking 4 classes. I didn't know that if I submit the withdraw request after the week 4, I need to pay the full tuition instead of prorated tuition. That policy was never communicated to me by any school staff in any means before. And I specifically asked my school advisor if I could get a refund if I withdraw in the middle of the semester and he confirmed yes without mentioning the 4 week limitation (maybe he doesn't know as well).

I just don't think the school is justified to charge me the whole tuition because I was misled by my school advisor. Can I refuse to pay the bill unless the amount is adjusted because the total tuition is as high as $2,400?

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Filed under: Credit Education law
Attorney answers 2

Posted

You have to read the contract you signed, as the student relationship with a private school is largely governed by that. The withdrawal policy you state is not uncommon. They will likely sue your for breach of contract if you do not pay. If the paperwork you signed states this withdrawal policy, they will likely win. You can use the misleading counselor as a defense, but it may not be a dispositive one. It depends who the court believes.

We do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not your lawyer. The statements I have made do not constitute legal advice. Any statements I have made are based upon the very limited facts you have presented, and under the premise that you will consult with a local attorney. This is not an attempt to solicit business. This disclaimer is in addition to any disclaimers that this website has made. I am only licensed in California.

Asker

Posted

Hi Golnar, Thank you so much for your reply. I later found out the withdraw policy is stated in the registration form that I signed. But it's very misleading. It says that students can withdraw from the course before the LAST class and get refund on a pro rata basis. It did have an additional note saying refer to the catalog for the tuition refund policy. But I have no idea what that catalog it's talking about. Nobody has provided that for me. And because I believe what my advisor told me so much that I didn't take a closer look at the withdraw policy. Can I accuse them of misleading the students in the withdraw policy by hiding the important 4-week limitation?

Golnar Sargeant

Golnar Sargeant

Posted

The problem with that is you can not prove what this counselor actually told you, and you still do not know what the catalog says. You can make the arguments about the misleading, but it's not going to be dispositive.

Asker

Posted

Thanks Golnar! What will be the consequence if I sue the school and lose?

Golnar Sargeant

Golnar Sargeant

Posted

No one can predict all consequences. If the judge does not think you had grounds then it's likely the school will win their breach of contract claim against you. The judge may award them court fees. It is VERY important that you check all the paperwork and literature to make sure there is no attorney's fees clause. If there is, the losing party has to pay the winner's attorneys' fees. You should also check to see if there is a clause mandating arbitration/mediation.

Asker

Posted

I see. I will think more about it. Thank you so much for your help. You are so kind!:)

Posted

Be careful here. The school can sue you for failure to pay per your contractual agreement. Moreover, the school can (and most will) make a report to the credit agencies and, if any subsequent school inquires about you, the school will report that you owe unpaid tuition and will withhold any transcripts. The private school communications network is very well maintained and proactive.

Failure to pay after the withdrawal date is very common but can be a problem for years to come -- wholly out of proportion to the amount in dispute. If you are on an educational path, chart your course carefully and consider negotiating a full settlement with the school so that this matter does not pop up to hurt you in future educational opportunities.

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