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Ex-Student Thanks Lehigh U. for Free Tuition With $1.3-Million Suit Over Grade

If Megan Thode is grateful that she received free tuition from Lehigh University because she’s the daughter of a Lehigh finance professor, she sure has a funny way of showing it.

Ms. Thode is suing the Pennsylvania institution for $1.3-million over a C-plus she received in a graduate counseling course.

According to The Morning Call, a newspaper in Allentown, Pa., the former student argues that the C-plus derailed her dream of becoming a state-licensed counselor. That grade wasn’t high enough for her to advance to the next phase of her fieldwork requirement, and she was forced out of the program. She asserts that she was the victim of breach of contract and sexual discrimination.

Why are those grievances worth seven figures? Because, her lawyer explained, that’s the difference in her lifetime earnings if she’d become a state-licensed counselor instead of graduating with only a master’s degree in human development.

Lehigh’s lawyers told a different story. They told the judge in the case that Ms. Thode wasn’t ready to advance in the program, and “showed unprofessional behavior that included swearing in class and, on one occasion, having an outburst in which she began crying,” according to the newspaper. The university’s lawyers also said Ms. Thode demanded an apology from her instructor as well as a plan for compensating her financially.

The judge said he’d “never seen something like this,” but the newspaper reported that the case could soon be headed toward a settlement. Ms. Thode’s lawyer said he had no problem with the judge’s setting a “national precedent” in the case. Others, however, aren’t quite so sure:

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