DENVER (CBS4) — As Johnson and Wales University prepares to close its Denver campus, some parents are accusing the school of withholding money they believe should be refunded in cash. One student, who was issued a medical withdrawal from the school, says the university won't give back more than $8,200 in room and board fees he never used.
Nicolle Nordman said her son, Logan, was following doctor's orders to leave schooling in February. In emails, obtained by CBS4 reporter Dillon Thomas, the university acknowledged more than $8,000 was due to the family. However, the university refused to give the cash back citing policy.
"Everything that we had paid, and his federal student loan, we would be getting back to apply to 2020-2021," Nicolle said.
But, after the campus shut down due to COVID-19, and weeks later announced a permanent closure in the summer of 2021, the family chose to not send Logan back to Johnson and Wales.
The university only offered to apply the remaining balance to future room and board, classes in the final year the school is in Denver, or tuition through their other campuses.
Nicolle said the sports entertainment management degree her son was pursuing isn't offered at any other Johnson and Wales campus, or online.
"It is a pretty obscure major. That is one of the only schools that has it," Nicolle said.
In an email sent to the Nordman family, the school's president said his decision was final to not return the money in cash. He, again, cited school policy and offered to apply the funds to another schooling opportunity through the system.
Nicolle said, after learning of the pending closure of the university, it wasn't a smart decision to send her son back to a school that he couldn't graduate from.
"Going back to Johnson and Wales for one year and then having to find another school made very little sense," Nicolle said.
Due to COVID-19, Nicolle lost her job around the same time her son returned for his medical leave. She said the more than $8,000 the university is keeping could prevent her son from going to school again in the fall.
She also accused the university of withholding federal funding which her son planned to use, but never did. She said the loan would then have to be paid out in the thousands of dollars down the road, even though he never attended the classes he was charged for.
"I don't know, without it, if he can afford to go to any classes this fall," Nicolle said.
The university declined to speak on the accusations directly, but issued the following written statement to CBS4:
"We appreciate the chance to comment. Privacy laws do not permit us to disclose any student-specific information; however, we can discuss our publicly-available policies with you.
Per our published policies, we give certain refunds to students who withdraw within a certain period of time after the start of our semesters: https://catalog.jwu.edu/financingyourdegree/refundpolicies/withdrawalcreditpolicy/. This is consistent with our understanding of how other schools operate. In addition, more generously than many schools of which we are aware, we give students who withdraw for medical reasons the ability to receive credits for the following year: https://catalog.jwu.edu/handbook/generalinformationandpolicies/withdrawalfromjwu/medicalwithdrawal/.
Our Denver Campus will remain open until after the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, so returning students can take classes in Denver during this time, and Denver students also have the option of transferring to our Providence or Charlotte campus or taking classes from their home locations at our College of Online Education (COE). Also, insofar as we are offering remote classes due to COVID, students can similarly take our courses from their home locations. Without speaking to the circumstances of this particular student, Denver Campus students who qualify for credits due to medical withdrawals under our published policies can use those credits at our Denver, Providence, and Charlotte campuses or our COE or (based on availability) in remote courses."
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