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Dozens of Nigerian students are suing Alabama State University for ripping them off

Quartz africa
Quartz africa

When the Nigerian government paid for full scholarships for 41 of its citizens at the Alabama State University (ASU) in 2013, they must have felt lucky. Three years later, they feel victimized. Not by their government, but by the college.

According to a Daily Beast report, the 41 Nigerian students are suing the historically black college for charging them unnecessarily and exorbitantly, against their will, for feeding, housing and books.

The students claim that while other students were typically allowed to buy textbooks elsewhere and eat outside the school premises, they were compelled to do so with money credited against these expenses. The students’ lawsuit claims there were “other expenses ASU incurred that were unrelated to the students.” The suit also claims that with the student’s education prepaid (each student received $32,000 per year in the school accounts), costs were inflated by the college to avoid paying any excess monies into the student’s accounts as expected.

Jimmy Iwezu, one of those affected, says the school charged a premium for accommodation despite cheaper options. “They make us pay $3,000 [a semester] to live in the dorms, and that is more than a mortgage on homes in this area,” he told the Daily Beast. One student was reportedly charged for two years of dormitory expenses despite living off campus the entire time.

For its part, the college claims that there is “no financial agreement between the University and the individual Nigerian students” and, as such, any refunds will be made to the Nigerian government, not the students. But, despite those claims, the students say they have authorization from their government to receive the refunds.

Julian McPhillips, the lawyer representing the Nigerians says the school “acted in a really disingenuous and self-serving way.” McPhillips will be hoping for better luck with the lawsuit, his second, after the first suit was dismissed without prejudice in July for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

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