Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is this lawsuit about?

    The lawsuit alleges that Students who attended GW during the Spring 2020 semester are entitled to partial refunds of tuition and fees because GW transitioned to remote instruction in March 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with District of Columbia legal mandates. GW denies each and every allegation of wrongdoing, liability, and damages asserted, and GW denies that the claims in the lawsuit would be appropriate for class treatment if the litigation proceeded through trial.

    The Plaintiffs’ Complaint, the Settlement Agreement, and other case-related documents are available here.

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  2. Why is this a class action?

    A class action is a lawsuit in which one or more persons called “Class Representatives” sue on behalf of people with similar legal claims. These people together are a “Settlement Class” or “Settlement Class Members.” The Settlement was approved by the court on May 13, 2024.

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  3. Why is there a Settlement?

    The Plaintiffs and GW have determined that it is in their best interests to settle to avoid the expenses and uncertainties associated with continued litigation. This Settlement resolves all claims asserted in the case against GW and its affiliated persons and entities. The Plaintiffs and the attorneys for the Settlement Class believe the proposed Settlement is in the best interests of the Class. The Settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing by GW and does not imply that there has been, or would be, any finding that GW violated any law if the case were to move forward. GW denies each and every allegation of wrongdoing and liability in the lawsuit. The Court did not reach a decision on the merits of the lawsuit.

    The Court gave final approval to the Settlement on May 13, 2024. The Court has conditionally certified the Settlement Class for settlement purposes only, so that Settlement Class Members have the opportunity to exclude themselves from the Settlement Class or to voice their support for or opposition to final approval of the Settlement.

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  4. Who is in the Settlement Class?

    You are a member of the Settlement Class if you are a Student or a Payor who paid or incurred tuition and/or fees to any Released Party in connection with the Spring 2020 semester and whose tuition and/or fees have not been refunded in their entirety. Excluded from the Settlement Class are

    1. any Judge or Magistrate Judge presiding over this Action and members of their families;
    2. the Defendant;
    3. persons who properly execute and file a timely request for exclusion from the Settlement Class;
    4. the legal representatives, successors, or assigns of any such excluded persons; and
    5. GW Students or Payors who did not pay any tuition or fees for the Spring 2020 Semester (i.e., those whose tuition and fees were paid for by institutional aid, tuition benefits, federal/state/local grants, GI/Yellow Ribbon benefits, outside scholarships, and/or third-party sponsorships); and
    6. any persons enrolled in Defendant’s entirely online or continuous enrollment programs at the start of the Spring 2020 Semester.
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  5. What does the Settlement provide?

    The $5.4 million Settlement Fund, minus any attorneys’ fee for Plaintiffs’ counsel (addressed in FAQ 11), service awards for the four named Plaintiffs of up to $10,000 each, and the costs of administering the Settlement, will be divided equally among all Settlement Class Members. The parties expect the payment to be approximately $193 per Student.

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  6. If I am a Class Member, what are my options?

    The deadline has passed for all the options as a class member.

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  7. How do I change my payment option if I do not want to receive payment by check? What if my tuition and fees were paid by a Payor?

    The deadline to change payment option has passed on March 11, 2024.

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  8. How do I exclude myself (“opt out”) from the Settlement?

    The deadline to exclude yourself has passed on March 11, 2024.

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  9. How do I object to the Settlement?

    The deadline to object has passed on March 11, 2024.

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  10. What happens if I do nothing?

    Students in the Settlement Class who do nothing automatically receive a payment by check to the Student’s last known mailing address as reflected in GW’s records after the Effective Date of the Settlement Agreement. You will give up any rights you may have to sue GW about the issues in this case.

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  11. How will Class Counsel and the Named Plaintiffs be paid?

    Class Counsel Attorneys’ Fees, Costs, and Expenses: The attorneys who brought the lawsuit (listed below) will ask the Court to award attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses not to exceed thirty-three percent (33%) of the Settlement Fund ($1,782,000) for the time, expense, and effort expended in investigating the facts, conducting the litigation, and negotiating the Settlement. Class Counsel’s motion for attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses and Class Representative awards will be filed with the Court and made available on this website no later than February 24, 2024. The Fee Award shall be payable by the Settlement Administrator from the Settlement Fund within twenty-one (21) business days after the Effective Date.

    Class Representative (Named Plaintiffs) Compensation: The Court may award reasonable service compensation to the Class Representatives for their service in the case, not to exceed Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) each, which shall come from the Settlement Fund. Any such Court-ordered compensation shall be paid within twenty-one (21) business days after the Effective Date. This shall be in addition to any Cash Award that the Class Representatives may receive as Settlement Class Members.

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  12. What rights am I giving up in this Settlement?

    Unless you exclude yourself from the Settlement, you cannot sue or be part of any other lawsuit against GW or the Released Parties about the issues in this case. This specifically includes any claim for breach of contract or any tort, common law or statutory claim arising out of or in any way allegedly related to GW tuition, fees and/or costs paid or incurred by or on behalf of any Settlement Class Member in connection with the Spring 2020 Semester. Unless you exclude yourself, all of the decisions and judgments by the Court will bind you.

    The Settlement Agreement is available here.

    The Settlement Agreement provides more detail regarding the Releases and describes the Released Claims with specific descriptions in necessary, accurate legal terminology, so read it carefully.

    If you have any questions, you can talk for free to the attorneys identified below who have been appointed by the Court to represent the Settlement Class, or you are welcome to talk to any other lawyer of your choosing at your own expense.

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  13. When will I receive my Cash payment?

    The court granted Final Approval in this settlement on May 13, 2024. We are yet to determine the payments, please keep checking this website, we will provide regular updates on the status of the Settlement.

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  14. When will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?

    The Court granted Final Approval in this settlement on May 13, 2024.

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  15. Who represents the Class?

    The Court has approved these attorneys to represent the Settlement Class. They are called “Class Counsel.” You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.

    Steve W. Berman, Esq.
    Daniel J. Kurowski, Esq.
    Whitney K. Siehl, Esq.
    Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP
    455 N. Cityfront Plaza Drive
    Suite 2410
    Chicago, IL 60611

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  16. How do I get additional information?

    More details about this lawsuit and the Settlement terms are in the Settlement Agreement which, along with other documents, can be obtained here. If you have any questions, you can also call the Settlement Administrator at 1-888-302-6048 or Class Counsel at the numbers or email addresses set forth below. Besides the documents available on this website, all pleadings and documents filed in Court may be reviewed or copied in the Office of the Clerk.

    Please do not contact the Judge or the Clerk of the Court or George Washington University about this case. They cannot give you advice on your options.

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