By Associated Press - Thursday, December 31, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky judge has ruled that a lawsuit seeking refunds for University of Kentucky students who had to vacate campus because of the COVID-19 pandemic could continue, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

On Wednesday, Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that claims for a refund of close to $20 million in mandatory student fees can move forward. He dismissed a portion of the case that demanded a partial tuition refund. The university had sought to dismiss the case entirely.

The fees support facilities like labs and gyms, most of which were closed to students after the university switched to online classes in March, the lawsuit stated.

“Our position is the university has inappropriately retained close to $20 million dollars in fees - mandatory fees for services and facilities that the students did not have access to,” students’ attorney Andre Regard said,

Jay Blanton, UK’s spokesperson, said the university was reviewing the order and had no immediate comment on it. Previously Blanton has defended the fees, saying they “support critical facilities and services that students have asked to support over the years and that remained available to them, such as mental health and wellness counseling.”

According to a breakdown of the fees paid during the 2019-2020 school year, a full-time student with at least one class on campus paid $160 for student health services, $131.25 for the operation of the student center and $80 for use of a large, on-campus gym. Students paid less than $20 for organizations like student government, activity planning boards and the student-run radio station and newspaper.

When the campus closed in mid-March, a few hundred students remained in on-campus dorms, while the vast majority returned home to complete the semester. The university partially refunded housing and dining fees at a cost of nearly $14 million.

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