Showing posts with label Minnesota School of Business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Minnesota School of Business. Show all posts

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Betsy DeVos, the for-profit college industry's best pal, rolls back regulatory protections for students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges

This week, Betsy DeVos, President Trump's lamentable Secretary of Education, proposed new rules for implementing the Department of Education's Borrower Defense to Repayment Program.

The new rules--433 pages long--outline the DeVos regime's procedures for processing fraud claims filed by students who took out federal loans to attend for-profit colleges and were swindled.  The New York Times and Steve Rhode of Get Out of Debt Guy reported on this development, but Rhode's analysis is more comprehensive and insightful than the Times story. Rhode's essay is the one to read.

Millions of Americans have been defrauded by for-profit colleges--literally millions. Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech filed for bankruptcy, brought down by regulatory pressures and fraud allegations. Those two institutions alone had a half million former students.

Globe University and Minnesota School of Business both lost their authority to operate in Minnesota after a Minnesota trial court ruled they had misrepresented their criminal justice programs.  Last month, the Minnesota Court of Appeals partially upheld the trial court's judgment, finding sufficient evidence to support a fraud verdict on behalf of 15 former students who testified at trial.

In California, DeVry University agreed to pay $100 million to settle claims brought by the Federal Trade Commission that it had advertised its programs deceptively. In the wake of that scandal, the company owning DeVry changed its name from DeVry Education Group to Adtalem Global Education.

The Art Institute, which charged students as much as $90,000 for a two-year associates' degree,
agreed to pay $95 million to settle fraud claims brought against it by the Justice Department, but the settlement is paltry compared to the amount of money borrowed by 80,000 former students.  And there have been numerous small for-profits that have been found liable for fraud, misrepresentation, or operating shoddy programs.

The for-profit scandal is a huge mess. If every student who was defrauded or victimized in some way by a for-profit college were to receive monetary restitution, it would probably cost taxpayers a half trillion dollars.

So how do we fix this problem? The Obama Administration approved rules that would have streamlined the process for resolving student-fraud claims, but Betsy DeVos pulled back those rules just before they were to have been implemented.

The new DeVos rules, summarized by Steve Rhode, put most of the blame on students for enrolling in these fraudulent and deceptive for-profit colleges. According to DeVos' DOE, "students have a responsibility when enrolling at an institution or taking student loans to be sure they have explored their options carefully and weighed the available information to make an informed choice."

DeVos' janky new rules forces fraud victims to continue paying on their student loans while they process their damned-near hopeless fraud claims, while DOE processes those claims--if at all--at a snail's pace.

DeVos nixed the Obama administration's ban against mandatory arbitration clauses that the for-profits have forced students to sign as a condition of enrollment. Sometimes these clauses also bar class action suits. So under Betsy DeVos' administration, many defrauded students will be barred from suing the institutions that cheated them.

Betsy and her for-profit cronies want struggling student debtors to enroll in long-term income-based repayment plans (IBRPs) that last from 20 to 25 years. Payments under those plans are generally so low that student debtors' loan balances are negatively amortizing. Borrowers in IBRPs will see their loan balances go up month by month even if they make regular monthly payments. In other words, most IBRP participants will never pay off their loans.

Some people are predicting the student-loan scandal will eventually lead to a national economic crisis similar to the one triggered by the home-mortgages meltdown. I am beginning to think these doomsday predictors are right. Already we see that student loans have impacted home ownership and may even be a factor in the nation's declining birth rates--now so low that the American population is not replacing itself.

Two things must be done to destroy the for-profit college cancer that is destroying the hopes of millions for a decent, middle-class life:

1) First, the for-profit college industry must be shut down. No more University of Phoenixes, no more DeVrys, no more Florida Coastal Universities.

2) Second, everyone who was swindled by a for-profit school should have easy access to the bankruptcy courts, so they can shed the debt they acquired due to fraud or misrepresentations and get a fresh start in life.

And there is a third thing we need to do. Congress should impeach Betsy DeVos for reckless dereliction of duty and blatant misconduct against the public interest.  Let's send her back to Michigan, where she can enjoy her family fortune as a private citizen and not as a so-called public servant.



References

Mark Brunswick. Globe U and Minn. School of Business must close, state says after fraud rulingStar Tribune, September 9, 2016. 

Christopher Magan. Globe U. and Minnesota School of Business to start closing campusesTwin Cities Pioneer Press, December 21, 2016.

State of Minnesota v. Minnesota School of Business, A17-1740, 2018 Minn. App. LEXIS 277 (Minn. Ct. App. June 4, 2018).

Sarah Cascone, Debt-Ridden Students Claim For-Profit Art Institutes Defrauded Them With Predatory Lending Practices.  Artnet.com, July 23, 2018.

Erica L. Green. DeVos Proposes to Curtail Debt Relief for Defrauded StudentsNew York Times, July 5, 2018.

Claire Cain Miller. Americans Are Having Fewer Babies. They Told Us Why. New York Times, July 5, 2018.

Steve Rhode. A Deep Dive Into the Debtor Blaming 2018 Borrower Defense to Repayment Program. Get Out of Debt Guy (blog), July 25, 2018.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Minnesota Court of Appeals upholds fraud verdict against Minnesota School of Business and Globe University

Last month, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a fraud verdict against Minnesota School of Business (MSB) and Globe University (Globe). This is the latest setback for MSB, which has experienced several regulatory and litigation woes in recent years.
2018: MSB/Globe University Lose a Fraud Suit in Minnesota Court of Appeals

In 2014, the  Minnesota Attorney General’s Office sued MSB and its sister school, Globe University, accusing the two schools of violating the Minnesota Consumer Fraud Act and the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. According to the Minnesota AG Lori Swanson, MSB/Globe  mislead prospective students to believe that the schools' four-year criminal-justice program would lead to a becoming police officer and that it's two-year criminal-justice program would lead to becoming a probation officer.
These programs were expensive, ranging from $39,000 to $78,000. As the Minnesota Attorney General's Office said in its recent press release, "As a result of the schools’ misrepresentations, many students were saddled with large amounts of student loan debt without the ability after graduation to obtain a job in their chosen career field of serving Minnesota’s citizens as police and probation officers."
After a 17-day trial, a Minnesota trial court ordered restitution for 15 students who testified they had been defrauded and approved a restitution program that would enable other students to file fraud claims as well. Under the trial court's order, these claimants "would receive a rebuttable presumption of harm and causation."

MSB and Global appealed this ruling, and last month, the Minnesota Court of Appeals approved part of the trial court's judgment but not all of it. The appellate court ruled that the 15 testifying students had adequately proved their injuries and causation under the Minnesota Consumer Fraud Act. Therefore the trial judge's restitution order for these 15 students was upheld.

On the other hand, the appellate court ruled that the state had not satisfied its burden of showing a causal nexus between MSB/Globe's representations and injury to students who had not testified at trial. Therefore, the trial court's restitution plan for other students was not approved by the appellate court.
2017: Minnesota Supreme Court rules MSB loaned student money at usurious interest rates 

Last month’s decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals is MSB’s latest litigation setback. Last year, after a long, drawn-out lawsuit brought by the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that MSB had charged its students usurious interest rates and had loaned students money without having a valid lender's license.

According to the Minnesota Supreme Court, MSB had loaned students money at interest rates ranging from 14 to 18 percent. The students never saw this money; it went directly to the school to pay students' tuition and fees.

Minnesota has a usury law that caps interest rates at 8 percent unless the lender offers an open-end  credit plan. MSB had not loaned students money pursuant to an open-end credit plan, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled; therefore its interest rates were usurious under state law. In addition, the court concluded, MSB was in the business of making loans and had loaned money to its students without having the required state license.

2016: MSB/Globe's Fraud Ruling Led Minnesota to Revoke MSB/Globe’s Authority to Operate

In September 2016, in the wake of the trial court's fraud ruling against MSB, Larry Pogemiller, Minnesota Commissioner of Higher Education, revoked MSB/Globe's authorization to operate in the state of Minnesota.   Last month's ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, partly affirming the trial judge's fraud decision, would seem to vindicate Pogemiller's decision.

And then there was more bad news for MSB/Globe. In December 2016, The U.S. Department of Education revoked the two school's access to federal student-aid money, which provided the bulk of the schools' operating revenues.

Globe University Continues to Survive in Wisconsin

One might think that all this litigation and regulatory pressure would cause MSB and Globe to shut down completely; but--like a Timex watch, Globe University, at least, has kept on ticking. Broadview University, another for-profit school owned by the same people who own Globe and MSB, has purchased four Globe campuses in Wisconsin, and this purchase was approved by the Trump administration's Department of Education.

Jeanne Herrmann, Broadview's CEO, said claims against MSB/Globe were unfounded. “Whatever one may think of the motivations of the litigation in Minnesota, that state-specific allegation had and continues to have nothing to do with the school’s campuses outside of Minnesota, " Herrmann said in a written statement (as reported by Inside Higher Ed).
We'll Always Have Wisconsin!

So if you are a student who liked how you were treated in Minnesota by MSB or Globe, simply move to Wisconsin, where you can enroll at Broadview University, which is owned by the same nice folks who own MSB and Globe.  I’ll bet your credits will transfer, and you will enjoy the same friendly and professional service in Wisconsin that you got in Minnesota. You Betcha!


 References
Mark Brunswick. Globe U and Minn. School of Business must close, state says after fraud ruling. Star Tribune, September 9, 2016. 

Paul Fain. A Shuttered For-Profit Re-emerges. Inside Higher Education, August 9, 2017.

Christopher Magan. Globe U. and Minnesota School of Business to start closing campuses. Twin Cities Pioneer Press, December 21, 2016.

State of Minnesota v. Minnesota School of Business, A17-1740, 2018 Minn. App. LEXIS 277 (Minn. Ct. App. June 4, 2018).

State of Minnesota v. Minnesota School of Business, 899 N.W. 467 (Minn. 2017).

U.S. Department of Education. Globe University, Minnesota School of Business Denied Access to Federal Student Aid Dollars. U.S. Department of Education press release, December 6, 2016.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Globe University and Minnesota School of Business are closing: We need federal legislation to manage college shutdowns

Globe University and Minnesota School of Business (MSB) began closing their campuses last month. The two for-profit institutions once operated in three states--Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin; but a series of regulatory and court actions brought them down.

In September, a Minnesota court ruled that Globe and MSB committed fraud by inducing students to enroll in their criminal justice programs.  Not long after, the Department of Education cut them off from federal student-aid funding. No for-profit college can survive a month without federal student-loan revenue, so DOE's action amounted to a death sentence for both institutions.

The demise of Globe and MSB follow in a train of college shutdowns over the past couple of years. The casualty lists includes Corinthian Colleges and ITT, two for-profits that declared bankruptcy. St. Catharine College and Dowling College also shut their doors, along with Virginia Intermont College.

DOE has more than 500 colleges on its "heightened cash monitoring" watch list, and many of these schools will shut down within the next three or four years. In a 2015 report, Moody's Investment Services predicted colleges would close at the rate of 15 per year commencing this year.

Now is the time for Congress to pass legislation to protect colleges' former students when the institution they attended shuts down. At a minimum, Congress should do the following:

I. Congress should pass legislation requiring every defunct college to deposit all student records in a central federal depository.

First student records at failed colleges must be preserved. Former students will need access to their official transcripts for decades after their alma mater closes, but how will they get those transcripts 25 years after the institution they attended shut its doors?

Currently, some closing colleges are voluntarily making arrangements to preserve student records. Dowling College, for example, which filed for bankruptcy in 2016, sent its student records to nearby Long Island University.

But not all closing colleges will act as responsibly as Dowling. In particular, colleges that are accused of defrauding their students have no incentive to preserve student records because those records might be used against them in legal proceedings.

Congress needs to adopt legislation that requires every college that receives federal funds to send all student records, including transcripts, to a federal records depository in the event of a closure. And colleges should be required to digitize their student records according to a standardized protocol so that the process of transferring records after a college closes can be done quickly and efficiently.

II. Non-operating colleges should forgive any loans owed to them by former students.

Most nonpublic colleges depend on federal student aid money for the bulk of their revenues, but some also lend money directly to their students.  For example, Globe and MSB loaned money to their students at interest rates as high as 18 percent. According to a Minnesota court decision, the two institutions  loaned money to approximately 6,000 students between 2009 and 2016.

Globe and MSB will be defunct in a matter of weeks, but the loans they made to students are debts they may try to collect. Federal law should require every college that loans money to students to forgive those loans if the college closes. As a matter of simple justice, a college that shuts down shouldn't be chasing after students who owe it money.

III. Congress should ease the path to bankruptcy relief for students who attended for-profit colleges.

Finally, Congress needs to streamline the loan-forgiveness process for students who attend for-profit colleges and received no economic benefit from the experience. It is particularly unjust for students to be on the hook for student loans taken out to attend a for-profit college that closed after being found guilty of fraud.

Under DOE regulations, students can apply to have their student loans discharged if they can make one of two showings: 1) they were induced to enroll based on fraud, or 2) they took out loans to attend a college that closed while they were enrolled or within 120 days of being enrolled.

Unfortunately, the administrative process for resolving discharge applications is slow and entirely inadequate to deal with the potential volume of claims. After all, Corinthian Colleges and ITT, which are both in bankruptcy, have around a half million former students between them.

Currently, the Bankruptcy Code bars debtors from discharging student loans in bankruptcy unless they can show that paying back their loans would create an "undue hardship."  Most bankruptcy courts have interpreted the undue hardship standard harshly, making it incredibly difficult for most college borrowers to clear their student loans through the bankruptcy process.

Congress should pass legislation that eliminates the undue hardship standard for all people who took out loans to attend a for-profit college and wound up broke.  The five-year default rate for a recent cohort of students who attended for-profit colleges is 47 percent--a clear indication that a lot of people got no benefit from attending a for-profit institution.

Conclusion: The Nation faces a swelling tide of college closures and needs an orderly process for shutting down higher education institutions.

One thing is certain: colleges are closing at an accelerating rate; and the Nation need an orderly process to minimize the harm to defunct colleges' former students. Student records must be safeguarded, student debt to failed institutions should be wiped out, and Congress needs to amend the Bankruptcy Code to allow former for-profit college students to obtain bankruptcy relief.

Photo credit: Wisconsin Public Radio


References

Christopher Magan. Globe U. and Minnesota School of Business to start closing campuses. Twin Cities Pioneer Press, December 21, 2016.

Rick Seltzer. Virginia Intermont's campus sale begs question of how colleges close accounts. Inside Higher Ed, January 5, 2017.

State of Minnesota v. Minnesota School of Business, 885 N.W.2d 512 (Minn. Ct. App. 2016).

Alia Wong. Farewell to America's Small Colleges, Atlantic, October 2, 2015.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Globe University will probably file for bankruptcy. Why can't students who took out loans to attend Globe get bankruptcy relief as well?

Globe University/ Minnesota School of Business is collapsing like a house of cards. Last September, a Minnesota judge ruled that Globe/MSB violated Minnesota consumer protection laws, and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education began the process of barring it from doing business in the state of Minnesota.

In October, the U.S. Department of Education ordered Globe to stop enrolling students, and this month, DOE cut off all federal student-aid funding to Globe.  Globe cannot survive without federal student aid money; and its seems likely it will file for bankruptcy in the near future.

Bankruptcy is a good thing for failing colleges.  In fact, several higher education institution filed for bankruptcy during the last two years, including: Corinthian Colleges, ITT Tech Services, Anthem College, and Dowling College.  Bankruptcy will allow Globe to shut down operations in an orderly manner and ensue that its creditors are treated fairly and equitably.

If Globe/MSB files for bankruptcy, it will be required to list its assets. Those assets will likely include loans it made to its own students. Kyle McCarthy, writing for the Huffington Post in 2014, reported that 42 percent of Globe's students had private loans; and some of these loans were originated by Globe University, Minnesota School of Business, or Terry Myhre, the owner of Globe University.

Ironically,  Globe University has easy access to the bankruptcy courts, where it will be able to shed some if not all of its debt; but Globe's students who file for bankruptcy will find it almost impossible to get relief from their debts to Globe. And this is true in spite of the fact that a judge found that Globe had committed fraud.

Why is this? Because private student loans issued by for-profit colleges, like federal student loans, cannot be discharged in bankruptcy unless the debtor can show that repaying the loans will cause "undue hardship," a very difficult standard to meet.

Obviously, this is a grave injustice. In my view, students who took out loans from for-profit colleges that committed fraud should have all their student loans automatically forgiven: federal loans, private loans, and loans issued by the college themselves.

Terry Myhre, owner of Globe University, receiving an award from the Daughters of the American Revolution


References

Christopher Magan. Fraud ruling threatens Globe U, Minnesota School  of Business with closure. Twin City Pioneer Press, September 8, 2016.

Judge Orders Globe University, Minnesota School of Business to Stop Fraudulent Marketing. KSTP Televsion News, September 10, 2016.

Kyle McCarthy. Globe University: Profiting Off the Backs of Students and Taxpayers. Huffington Post, January 23, 2014.

Shahlen Nasiripour. Corinthian Colleges Files for Bankruptcy. Huffington Post, May 5, 2015.

Andrew Skurria. Dowling College Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2016.

U.S. Department of Education. Globe University, Minnesota School of Business Denied Access to Federal Student Aid Dollars. U.S. Department of Education press release, December 6, 2016.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Department of Education denies student-aid money to Globe University and Minnesota School of Business: Surely the end is near for Globe/MSB

The Department of Education announced this week that it is suspending Globe University and Minnesota School of Business from participating in the federal student aid program. Last September a Minnesota judge ruled that Globe and MSB had fraudulently marketed their criminal justice programs, and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education began the process of revoking the schools' authorization to operate.

Globe and MSB had over 9,000 students as recently as 2010, but enrollments plummeted after the Minnesota Attorney General's Office began investigating the institutions. According to a news story, students spent as much as $80,000 to obtain degrees in criminal justice, but these degrees did not lead to jobs as Minnesota police or probation officers. Apparently, the schools' programs were not accredited by the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training.

 It is hard to see how Globe and MSB can continue to operate without as steady infusions of federal student-aid money. Together the two schools received more than $50 million in federal aid money for the 2014-2015 academic year.  Earlier this year, DOE cut ITT Tech off from federal student-aid money, and that institution closed and filed for bankruptcy shortly thereafter. It seems likely that Globe University and MSB will be closing soon--perhaps within a few weeks.

It is good to see DOE and state attorneys general going after for-profit institutions that prey on unwary students. Without a doubt, vigorous enforcement actions will force a lot of shady institutions to close.

But hundreds of thousands of students have taken out billions of dollars in federal student loans to attend for-profit institutions, and their student loans are not automatically forgiven if the institution they attended is found liable for fraud. Although DOE has a closed-school loan forgiveness program and a process whereby students can seek loan forgiveness if they were defrauded by the college they attended, both processes are cumbersome and slow.

In my view, all students who attended a for-profit college should have their student loans automatically forgiven if the college they attended is found liable by a competent court of defrauding students  or violating consumer protection laws. Of course, discharging all these student loans would be a huge hit for taxpayers, but it is not fair for students who were lured into taking out loans to receive substandard training or education from sketchy for-profit colleges to be burdened by debt they simply will never be able to pay.




References

Christopher Magan. Fraud ruling threatens Globe U, Minnesota School  of Business with closure. Twin City Pioneer Press, September 8, 2016.

Judge Orders Globe University, Minnesota School of Business to Stop Fraudulent Marketing. KSTP Televsion News, September 10, 2016.

U.S. Department of Education. Globe University, Minnesota School of  Business Denied Access to Federal Student Aid Dollars. US. Department of Education Press Release, December 6, 2016.