Kentucky Supreme Court sides with UK students seeking tuition refunds from COVID-19 pandemic


University of Kentucky strategic communications sophomore Maigan Williams gets tested for COVID-19 on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Courtney Suber, Reporter

Students at the University of Kentucky may become eligible to receive back more than $200 million in tuition dollars.

On June 15, the Kentucky Supreme Court issued an opinion on a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of UK students in August 2020.

The lawsuit was filed in Franklin County and called for the refunding of students enrolled at the university during the 2020 spring semester. 

During this time, the university was closed to students. This rendered them unable to use facilities and programs provided by the university.

According to the Lexington Herald Leader, students paid $18 million in mandatory fees which go toward funding facilities like labs and gyms. The mandatory fees also went towards the operation of the student center.

If ultimately ruled in favor of the students, they could receive not only what was spent in mandatory fees, but also $160 million back in tuition reimbursement.

According to the Courier Journal, the lawsuit was dismissed by Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd in December 2020, but proceeded to the Court of Appeals.

The lawsuit was sent to the Kentucky Supreme Court after the Court of Appeals sided with the students, per WLKY.

The University of Kentucky argued in Franklin County Circuit Court as well as the Court of Appeals that a contract was not signed between the university and students, the Courier Journal reported.

Per Kentucky law (Sackett v. Maggard KY 1911), immunity against lawsuits is provided to public universities if a contract does not exist between them and the people which they serve.

UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said that the university did refund students for dining, housing and other services during the 2020 spring semester.

The Courier Journal added that as of June 29, the university has “about a week” to fight the opinion following its release. When the window expires, the attorney who is representing the students, Andre Regard, will move on with other lawsuits.

Read the Kentucky Supreme Court’s opinion here.