School students lose thousands after overseas trips cancelled

School students and their parents are frustrated they're not getting full refunds for overseas trips cancelled by the coronavirus.

Parents have told Newshub their children fundraised sometimes thousands of dollars each - and look likely to get just a fraction back in return.

A school trip of a lifetime to America had Feilding High School's year 13 accounting class so excited.

On the itinerary were visits to tech companies like Apple, as well as tourist sites like the Hollywood walk of fame.

Mum Sue Palmer-Bond says her daughter Kate helped pay for the $6500 trip.

"[She] worked really, really hard, fundraising, selling chocolates, going to work in a bakery at 6:30 in the morning before school to earn the money to go," she told Newshub.

But it never went ahead. Now they're fighting to get their money back from the school and the travel agent it uses called Student Horizons.

"Every question that we asked relating to the money, where our money went, what it paid for, and how much we can expect back in a refund has not been answered," Palmer-Bond says

Feilding High School principal Nathan Stewart says it passes every dollar and cent to Student Horizons, which he describes as an outstanding team.

Their school trip is one of 38 that Student Horizons is postponing or cancelling.

Students at Epsom Girls Grammar in Auckland are also among those trying to get their money back - for a history trip to Europe booked for July.

One parent says they paid a $3500 deposit and are only being offered a 15 percent refund - that's just $525.

In a letter sent to Epsom Girls parents obtained by Newshub, the owner of Student Horizons says a 15 percent refund is a worst-case scenario, and it's trying to get refunds from airlines, accommodation and transport providers. But that may not happen until November.

He says it's not holding any the money paid by students and their families.

A complaint about the company has been laid with the Commerce Commission, but the company says the fine-print in its contracts means it doesn't have to give any student any of their money back.

Hard-earned or not.