MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When a student spends tens of thousands of dollars on an education, they expect that degree to lead them on a successful career path.
But Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson says a for-profit school is handing out big promises and false hope.
The state filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Minnesota School of Business and Globe University for fraud.
The suit alleges the schools use high-pressure sales tactics to recruit students into programs that can’t deliver on the promise of jobs.
The for-profit schools have been under state investigation for months now. Swanson compared their recruitment of students to more like selling cars than education.
Dillon Zerwas is among dozens of students named as plaintiffs in the state’s lawsuit. He enrolled in Globe University’s criminal justice program with the hope of becoming a police officer. That was until a temporary teacher there told him his degree wouldn’t allow it.
The school’s program isn’t recognized by POST, Minnesota’s Police Officer Standards and Training board.
“I told him I wanted to be a police officer, he told me, ‘You can’t be one in Minnesota, we’re not accredited,'” Zerwas said.
Elisia Claiborne is a single mother. Upon graduation, she discovered that the $45,000 she spent to earn her Globe University associate’s degree doesn’t qualify her to work as a probation officer, contrary to the school’s claim.
Claiborne says she went to the school to complain about being misled, but they told her that she had previously been informed about this detail.
“You said [in] two years I’ll be able to become a probation officer with my associate’s degree, and that was false advertisement,” Claiborne said.
Swanson says her office is hearing similar complaints from dozens of students. She compares the school’s recruitment tactics to the Hollywood film “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
She says academic recruiters are more like a sales force, pressuring students to quickly enroll by employing deceptive claims.
Swanson adds that the average student debt for a Globe or Minnesota School of Business student is twice that owed by graduates of a state university. Many of the students come away owing between $35,000 and $52,700 upon graduation.
“Going to school and getting an education has long been the way generations of people have improved their economic outlook in life,” Swanson said. “This school though left some people deep in debt with promises that didn’t materialize.”
The suit also alleges the schools misrepresent the transferability of credits and falsifying job placement rates.
Late Tuesday, the schools responded to the suit, calling it “unnecessary.” Naomi McDonald, the schools’ director of communication, said any claims of deceptive practices on the part of the schools “could not be further from the truth.”
The lawsuit seeks an immediate injunction to stop alleged deception and false or misleading statements.
It also seeks civil penalties and restitution to repay students’ debt.
Click here to read the school’s complete response to the lawsuit.