7 On Your Side helps SUNY student get a room and board refund

For months, Governor Cuomo was urging everyone to stay home to stop the spread. So, when one SUNY student found all her classes were virtual, she heeded the governor's advice.

Video Transcript

- New York Governor Cuomo is urging everyone to stay at home to stop the spread of coronavirus. So when one student from SUNY found out that all her classes were virtual, she headed the governor's advice. And said when her mom found out, though, that SUNY was still charging her daughter thousands of dollars for room and board that she didn't use, she called on Nina Pineda, and "7 On Your Side" to go all the way to the top to get her money back.

KAREN TUCKER: We're paying for something that we're not getting. And it feels like we're being stolen from.

NINA PINEDA: We first met the Tuckers back in February, when they were steaming in the White Plains snow after SUNY Binghamton shifted all their daughter's spring classes from in-person to virtual, yet still charged for Mia's room and board $6,400.

KAREN TUCKER: It's being wasted. I might as well put it in the driveway and set it on fire.

NINA PINEDA: The senior majoring in social work got word from her college after Christmas break that all her spring classes would be fully online. Binghamton kept the door open to students, but like many, she was worried about the coronavirus and being on campus in close quarters.

MIA TUCKER: There's no reason to go back. So it was a little uncomfortable, I guess. That like, I don't know, everything with COVID is a little uncomfortable.

NINA PINEDA: But when her mom asked for a refund on rooming, SUNY said no, saying she signed a no refund contract the previous fall. So we contacted SUNY Binghamton. It said that so far, they've refunded $25 million to students living on campus, adding they were the first in the nation to give room and board relief when the pandemic began last spring.

They said the Tuckers can apply for a financial hardship exception. They applied, but even though the Tuckers have two kids in college, Karen's full time teacher's salary and her husband's pension stopped them from qualifying.

KAREN TUCKER: It doesn't seem fair to work hard, save your money, do the right thing, and then have somebody take it from you for something you're not receiving.

NINA PINEDA: So "7 On Your Side" began our homework, first calling the New York State Department of Education, sending numerous emails to Governor Cuomo. And appealed again, to SUNY Binghamton.

KAREN TUCKER: Besides being extremely happy, I was surprised.

NINA PINEDA: SUNY took another look at the Tucker's financial situation, and refunded the full room and board bill. $6,400. Mia graduated last weekend, and now that money will help pay for her Master's at SUNY Binghamton.

- Thank you "7 On Your Side."

NINA PINEDA: In White Plains.