Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson Files Lawsuit Against Minnesota School of Business and Globe University
Schools Enrolled Students Who Wanted To Become Police Officers Even Though Their Programs Aren’t Certified For This & Misrepresented The Transferability Of Their Credits
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson today filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota School of Business and Globe University—Minnesota corporations under common ownership—for misrepresenting the job opportunities available to their criminal justice graduates and misleading students about the transferability of their credits to other higher education institutions. Some students who enrolled at the schools were saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of debt without the ability afterwards to obtain jobs in their chosen career fields.
“Going to college has long been a way for people to try to make a better life for themselves. The schools exploited this dream for some students, who are now saddled with debt,” said Attorney General Swanson.
The schools market themselves as career schools that provide real-world job training desired by employers. The schools recommend particular programs and degrees for students. Their training manual states: “The recommendation tells the prospect why they should enter the career field you are recommending….The recommendation takes away the doubt.” It also states: “If [the potential student] trusts you and you tell him in a convincing way that this is the best career option for him, you will have a sale.” The schools train admissions representatives to tell prospective students that: “I will recommend that your application be submitted for acceptance, but only if both you and I believe that you can benefit from career training and that it would put your career in the direction you would like to see it go.”
The schools offer associate and bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice costing $35,100 and $70,200, respectively. Ads for their criminal justice program show people in police uniforms apprehending suspects and administering field sobriety checks. The schools recommend their criminal justice program to prospective students who tell the schools they want to become police officers, even though it is impossible for a student who graduates from the schools to become a police officer in Minnesota without obtaining a degree from another certified institution. Graduation from the schools’ criminal justice program does not satisfy the educational requirements for a person to become a licensed police officer under Minnesota law—even with additional “skills training”—because the schools are not regionally accredited institutions and do not offer a Professional Peace Officer Education program approved by the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training (“POST”) Board. Some students who enrolled in the schools so they could become police officers incurred tens of thousands of dollars of debt with no ability to become licensed as a police officer in Minnesota after graduation.
“It isn’t right for students whose goal is to protect and defend the public as police officers to be sold a degree that doesn’t even allow them to become a police officer in Minnesota,” said Attorney General Swanson.
The lawsuit describes a sales-oriented culture that places a premium on the enrollment of students by “admissions representatives” who are trained to “master the art of selling.” The schools tell the representatives that “[w]e are selling a feeling, an attitude” and require them to use students’ dreams to sell enrollment, asking them how a successful career could better their lives. Representatives pressured some students to enroll during the sales meeting. The schools train representatives not to take “no” for an answer—telling representatives that “[y]ou must be prepared to meet a ‘NO’ and not be stopped by it” and “[y]ou are there to enroll that student, not to PR him and leave without a commitment.” Using tactics reminiscent of sales boiler rooms, the schools tell admissions representatives to be silent after asking a student to enroll: “When you ask the question at the final close, remain silent. The next one who speaks loses.”
The schools recommend their criminal justice associate degree program to students who tell the schools they want to become probation officers. Records produced by Defendants to the State acknowledge that probation officers require a bachelor’s degree if not a master’s degree. The Minnesota Department of Corrections and most if not all counties in Minnesota require probation officer applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree. As a result, despite the schools’ recommendations, students who obtain an associate degree in criminal justice from the schools are unable to find jobs afterward as probation officers.
The schools have told some students that their credits will transfer to other institutions, even though the schools know that little to none of their credits will transfer to most other institutions. The Minnesota School of Business and Globe University are nationally accredited, but most public and non-profit college and universities are regionally accredited. Regionally accredited institutions generally do not accept any or most credits of nationally accredited schools. Some students who attend the schools learn that their credits will not transfer after deciding to pursue their education at other institutions.
The median amount of student debt for a graduate of Globe’s associate degree program was $35,132, compared to $15,850 at a Minnesota community college; the median amount of debt for a graduate of the Minnesota School of Business’ bachelor’s degree program was $52,791, compared to $25,080 at the University of Minnesota for 2013, according to the Office of Higher Education website.
The schools’ corporate headquarters are in Woodbury, Minnesota, and they operate campuses in Blaine, Brooklyn Center, Elk River, Lakeville, Minneapolis, Moorhead, Plymouth, Richfield, Rochester, Shakopee, and Woodbury, Minnesota and online programs from their Richfield location.
The lawsuit—filed in Hennepin County District Court—seeks injunctive relief, civil penalties, and restitution. This is not the first time the schools have been sued for similar conduct. In 1986 a group of former students sued MSB (then owned by ITT Educational Services) for misrepresenting its program, degree, and transferability of credits. In 1997, former students sued MSB for misrepresenting a program and job placement rates, and over credit transferability. In 2012, two former employees filed separate suits against MSB in which they alleged the school made misrepresentations to students.
People may report complaints about the schools to the Attorney General’s Office by calling (651) 296 3353 or (800) 657 3787. People may also download a Complaint Form by clicking here, and mail the completed form to the Attorney General’s Office at: 1400 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 2131.