ST. PAUL — More than a thousand students who attended for-profit colleges found to have committed fraud can ask for their money back, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The decision means about 1,200 students who attended criminal justice programs at Globe University and the Minnesota School of Business can request the schools refund tuition and other expenses.
“We filed suit against the schools five years ago because they defrauded students who wanted to better their lives with a degree,” said Lori Swanson, who sued the schools while she was attorney general. “I am gratified that the court ruling gives these students the opportunity to ask for their tuition and other expenses to be refunded.”
In 2017, a Hennepin County judge found the schools had deceived students enrolled in the program by leading them to believe the courses would get them closure to careers as police and probation officers. In fact, the classes were not part of the requirements for those careers.
The fraud finding led to the state Office of Higher Education revoking the ability for Globe and the Minnesota School of Business to operate in Minnesota. Months later, the U.S. Department of Education revoked the institutions’ access to federal aid programs.
The schools were forced to close several locations and transfer operations to a related company.
Representatives from the schools have argued the state’s actions were too severe and the institutions should not have been forced to closed. They’ve said problems with the marketing of the criminal justice programs were address when state leaders raised concerns.
But Swanson and other state attorneys argued the schools’ deceptions were too egregious to allow them to continue to operate in Minnesota. A court also found the loans the schools made to students violated the state’s consumer protection laws.
Tuesday’s ruling is important because it allows all the students harmed by the schools’ fraud to seek refunds, Swanson said. The schools had asked only the 15 students who testified at trial to be eligible for restitution.
Attorney General Keith Ellison also praised the decision. “Today’s ruling affirms my office’s authority to get money back for Minnesotans when they’re harmed by fraud,” Ellison said.
Students who attended the schools at the time of the fraud finding are also eligible for federal student loan forgiveness. The U.S. Department of Education approved a larger eligibility window for students in August.