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Mercer student's lawsuit demands tuition refund due to online classes

After COVID-19 moved spring classes online, the senior says Mercer failed to provide "a first-rate education." The school calls it a 'frivolous lawsuit,'

MACON, Ga. — A Mercer University senior says the school should refund some tuition and fees for moving classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a federal lawsuit filed Monday, Olivier Williams claims that Mercer isn't giving students the education it promised in exchange for its $37,508-a-year tuition.

Williams, who's from Dacula, filed a class-action lawsuit, meaning she expects other students to join her in demanding refunds.

Her lawsuit argues that she and classmates paid "for a first-rate education and an on-campus, in-person educational experience."

Instead, they're getting a "deficient and insufficient alternative."

That violates Mercer's contract with its students, the lawsuit argues.

The school has also refused to refund mandatory fees for programs and services that were canceled, the lawsuit says.

After March 15, all Mercer spring semester classes were offered online.The school returned to in-person classes in August.

Williams' complaint argues that the online format waters down learning and cheapens their grades.

Students are deprived of labs, libraries, study rooms and other facilities. They're also losing out on career networking.

Williams wrote that she paid the school around $8,550 in tuition and $6,145 in fees this spring. The lawsuit estimates that more than $5 million could be at stake.

Mercer enrolled more than 8,500 undergraduate and graduate students last year, and the complaint says they should be notified of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Macon. 

By email, Mercer spokesman Kyle Sears told 13WMAZ, "The University does not comment on frivolous lawsuits."