HARRISBURG — A federal judge has ruled that Summer Study Programs Inc. must pay Penn State University nearly $320,000 for providing students with “room, board and computer access” during a summer program in 2016, according to a recent decision filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
U.S. District Judge Malachy E. Mannion issued the decision, which was filed on Jan. 29.
In 2013, SSP entered into a three-year agreement with Penn State to run a summer program on its campus so that high school students could "experience college life." SSP agreed to collect money from the students and then reimburse the university for the students’ lodging and food and pay a computer fee and an administrative fee.
In 2015, the university informed SSP that it would not be renewing the contract, which was set to expire after SSP’s summer program the following year. SSP collected just more than $1 million for the 2016 program. Nearly 250 students participated in the program, which lasted between two and five weeks, according to the court’s decision.
Penn State sent an invoice to SSP for $319,178.59 in December 2016 and informed the company that it had 30 days to pay. After SSP failed to pay, the university filed suit.
But SSP did not respond to Penn State’s complaint, according to the court’s decision. On Aug. 21, 2017, the court clerk entered a default against the company for “failure to answer or otherwise plead.”
“To date, SSP has neither responded to PSU’s complaint nor to the default entered against it,” Mannion wrote in the decision. “SSP has not responded to PSU’s amended motion for entry of default judgment. Further, [SSP’s] counsel has not entered an appearance on SSP’s behalf, and SSP has not filed any document with this court regarding this case.”
Consequently, Mannion found that Penn State had satisfied the requirements for the court to enter default judgment in its favor.
“Since the court finds [that] PSU has shown prejudice if default is denied, that SSP does not have a litigable defense and that SSP’s conduct is culpable, it will grant PSU’s motion for default judgment,” Mannion wrote in the decision.