Class Action Lawsuit against Colleges and Universities

Posted by dark_star 4 years, 2 months ago to Education
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Perhaps it's time for a Class Action Lawsuit against every College and University that took Student Loan money from our children.

These bastions of higher education willingly and consciously sold useless courses towards useless degrees that had little chance of ever being used to pay off those loans.


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  • Posted by awebb 4 years, 2 months ago
    Speaking as someone with a useless degree paid for in part with student loans, I hold myself responsible for the debt.

    I have never missed a student loan payment. I have never blamed the government or bank for making it possible for me to go to school. Sure, it ended up being a lousy investment but that's not their fault.

    For a time, I did blame the college for selling me a bad "product". I clearly remember my college advisor telling me when I graduated I would make easily $45,000 a year at my first job. That did not happen.

    Today, I do not blame the school. I should have done more research into the school, the degree I was getting, and career options after graduation. I know a lot of people that feel differently, but think of it this way....

    If you met a man selling magic beans, beans that would change your life (make you rich, smart, etc.), and you paid him $100,000 for those beans only to find out they were useless, who would you blame? Immediately, you might be upset at the man. Why is he defrauding people? But honestly, isn't the fault really with you? Why did you think there was a magic pill (bean) that would change your life so drastically? Did you do any research? Read any magic bean reviews?

    I do believe that colleges mislead students, a lot of their advisors are as bad as used car salesmen, but at the end of the day you're responsible for your life the decisions you make. A college doesn't come up and hold you at gunpoint to force you to sign a student loan agreement.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 2 months ago
      That's most admirable of you and I wish you all the best in the future.

      However, saying that trusting the institution's judgment and advise is like buying magic beans is a bit extreme. You're generally raised to trust and respect the opinions of those who's advice you are paying for and who are far more experienced than yourself. So when a well paid, professional "expert" from an accredited school recommends you buy a course of study, you're likely to agree with them and buy their product.

      Like it or not,18 - 20 year olds are still young and generally gullible. They do not have the life experience, in most cases, to be jaded enough to distrust someone who should be acting in their best interest. While this isn't quite like betraying a public trust, I think it's pretty darn close.

      In my opinion this is called a con and should be treated like any other con job or fraud case. Do we blame the little old lady who is tricked into loosing her life savings because she thought she was paying her electric bill over the phone? I don't think so, but even if we do, do we pat the con artist on the back and tell him "keep up the good work"? No, if we catch him, we prosecute him and attempt to make him pay back any ill-gotten gains.

      Colleges keep "selling" their wares to new and unsuspecting young adults every year and I think it's about time they're made to face the realities we'd all face if we engaged in an organized scheme that cheated unsuspecting people for years on end.
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      • Posted by awebb 4 years, 2 months ago
        A huge part of the problem that I don't think you're considering is businesses

        My degree (which is in business) is useless in that I couldn't tell you one thing I learned in college that I couldn't have learned on my own on the job. In fact, most of the skills I use today (HTML, AdWords, Analytics, etc. etc.) I taught myself after graduating.

        However, without a degree I couldn't have gotten any of the jobs I've held since college (except working for Atlas). They all required you to have a bachelors degree. Yep, even handling complaints at a call center. Why? Who knows. I certainly haven't needed my degree to do those jobs... yet if a degree hadn't been on my resume the HR person would have tossed my application right in the wastebasket.

        A bachelors degree has become the new high school diploma.

        The point I'm trying to make is that businesses that require you to have a degree to do an entry level job make colleges necessary.
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      • Posted by mgarbizo1 4 years, 2 months ago
        In sticking with your old lady example, I think you used a poor example to illustrate your point. Let me offer a better example with your old lady that might pertain more to what your point is: Say our sweet old lady gave her life savings to an financial adviser (because he promises 20% returns annually), and he invests her money poorly and as a result, she loses her savings that she gave the man. Who is responsible in this? The sweet old lady can certainly be mad at the adviser for losing her money, but she didn't have to give that adviser all her savings or even part of her savings. She chose poorly, now are you of the mindset that the sweet old lady should not have the freedom to choose how to invest her money, and that she should allow someone else to make that decision for her? Sure enough, she believed that her savings would grow not shrink, but that's what can happen with our freedom to choose the path we want, we can pick poorly. Kids 18-20 years are gullible and should not just be handed a bunch of money to get a worthless degree, but I'll overstep and blame the parents of said teens that didn't prepare their children to be more careful with their money and more realistic with their educations and careers.
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        • Posted by 4 years, 2 months ago
          Sorry but I never suggested that the little old lady gave her money away or that she shouldn't have the freedom to do so. I was using a phone scam example where someone calls an elderly woman and convinces her that the caller is from the electric company and she needs to provide her banking information to the caller. The money is then stolen from her account - not given voluntarily.

          Even if you find fault with the little old lady, the activity is still wrong and the perpetrator should pay.

          And , as you suggested, if you blame the parents for raising gullible kids, that doesn't exonerate the person or organization that commits a tort or crime against the kids.

          I guess my point is that I feel the schools consciously know what they are doing and should be held accountable by the people it was done to.
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          • Posted by mgarbizo1 4 years, 2 months ago
            You are equating a phone scammer with a college adviser, so I'll point out the inherent flaw in your examples: the phone scammer is dishonest with the old lady from the start, and tricks her into his scam. The college adviser is not dishonest in this same way, he doesn't receive any payment directly from the student for his advice, in fact, I don't think his pay has anything to do with how many students join the college and pick the "useless" degrees offered. He receives payment from the college/university, the school receives payment from the student (in this case the government loans that the student was given without any idea of the consequences of what a loan entails). The point is that college operates in the free market where supply and demand still rule. They want the student to pick their school and pick from their degrees that the school gives accreditation for. If the school offers the "useless" degree, and the student chooses courses for that "useless" degree, then I don't think the responsibility falls on the college adviser for giving the student all their options, even if we both agree that the degree provided by the school is completely useless. If no one picks that useless degree because it is useless, then the college stops offering it because it is inefficient to keep that degree when there is no demand for it. The key here is that the only way this sorts itself out is by a free market, and not having the government so heavily involved in the student loans which created a much higher demand for colleges (as well as their useless degrees) due to the larger supply of students with government funded student loans. When people use their own money for investments such as education or retirement, they tend to be a little more careful about where the money goes, not to say that people still make mistakes because they do...but here in lies my point, people make mistakes and should be held responsible for their own decisions, even 18-20 year olds, that's life. But if you're like me, you'll blame the government for creating this mess to begin with.
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            • Posted by 4 years, 2 months ago
              No, I'm simply using this crime as an example of someone, the little old lady, who made a bad choice but that doesn't negate the criminal being charged.

              And no, I'm not saying the advisor is the sole responsible party either. I'm saying the schools are consciously choosing to push these "useless" degrees to fill their colleges. But since you brought it up, the advisor does get paid, however indirectly, from all the students he pushes into the student loan program. He'd be unlikely to keep his job if he didn't get enough students to pay the exorbitant costs of tuition.

              I'm not defending the student loan program - It shouldn't exist
              I'm not defending the students who borrowed the money ...
              I'm not saying what can be done to save the student loan program.

              Just because someone is suckered into a Ponzi scheme doesn't mean that the Ponzi scheme operator shouldn't be held accountable.
              Just because someone inadvisably rides their bike onto a heavily trafficked road doesn't mean the driver of a car who hits that bike shouldn't be held accountable.
              Just because someone buys a house with a flawed foundation that the previous owner knew about and didn't disclose doesn't mean the previous owner shouldn't be held accountable.
              Just because someone buys the Brooklyn Bridge doesn't mean the "seller" shouldn't be held accountable.
              In other words, just because someone is gullible doesn't mean those who take advantage of them shouldn't be held accountable.
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              • Posted by mgarbizo1 4 years, 2 months ago
                You said "Just because someone inadvisably rides their bike onto a heavily trafficked road doesn't mean the driver of a car who hits that bike shouldn't be held accountable." I disagree, but to understand you correctly, the bike rider breaks the law by riding their bike on a heavily trafficked road marked for cars not bikes, instead of staying on the sidewalk where his bike and he belong, and you want the car driver to be held accountable for the accident caused by the biker's inadvisable decision? If this is your point, then we really disagree on the laws of causality
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                • Posted by jdg 4 years, 2 months ago
                  The biker story isn't even remotely comparable much less a simile. Car drivers do not seek to lure bikers where they can clobber them for the car driver's profit.
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                  • Posted by 4 years, 2 months ago
                    I'm not comparing collages with a car hitting a bike.
                    I'm giving examples of holding people / organizations accountable even if the person harmed wasn't doing the smartest thing to begin with.
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                • Posted by 4 years, 2 months ago
                  Did I say bikes weren't allowed? No....
                  Did I say the biker was breaking the law? No...
                  Did I say the road was marked for cars only? No ...
                  All I said was if a road is very busy (heavily trafficked) a biker might be advised not to ride on it because of the increased danger .... That being said, even if he does ride on that road, anyone who hits him should be held accountable.

                  Again, all I'm saying is that anyone harming / taking advantage of another person (Even if that other person might be better advised) should be held accountable.
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    • Posted by edweaver 4 years, 2 months ago
      Well stated, rock solid truth!

      Reminds me of a saying that goes something like, when you're pointing the finger at someone else, there are 3 others pointing back at you.
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    • Posted by CircuitGuy 4 years, 2 months ago
      I agree. Caveat emptor. I suspect you have found or will find work that you love and pays well, and it's impossible to say whether that education helped in some way. So even if they did overstate the value of what they provided, you will make lemonade out of lemons.

      My undergrad education would have been more valuable if I had worked as a tech for a year or two first. That's the main reason I felt like I got more out of my masters: I had actually done some of this stuff and could evaluate how it fit into the real world. Also I was paying for it myself by working. My parents paid for undergrad.
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  • Posted by $ CBJ 4 years, 2 months ago
    Perhaps it's time for the government to get out of the student loan business.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 2 months ago
      I agree .... But the colleges and Universities are, and have been, actively encouraging young people, who simply don't know any better, to go into massive debt while pocketing the cash with no regard for the student's futures.

      To me that's fraud and they should be held accountable as any other organization doing the same thing. Don't we go after welfare fraud? How about financial fraud against seniors? Or fraud of any type?

      Besides, it'd be a great way to force this liberal world of academia to accept the hard realities of the responsibilities faced by the rest of us living in the real world.
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      • Posted by $ CBJ 4 years, 2 months ago
        One obvious fix would be to make student loan debt dischargable in bankruptcy. It would make lenders think twice before shelling out $100,000 for a degree in Postmodern Literature.
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        • Posted by 4 years, 2 months ago
          I agree again, but that still leaves the colleges and universities with all the money they "cheated" out of gullible people who trusted their guidance.
          If someone sells you a lemon car and you take a loan out on it, the dealership still has the money even if you declare bankruptcy against the lending institution.
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          • Posted by $ CBJ 4 years, 2 months ago
            Well, in a free market you can't totally insulate people from the consequences of their own bad decisions. Young people have to learn how to operate in the real world, and that lesson can sometimes be expensive. And colleges don't actually guarantee you a job after you graduate. The market discipline of sound lending standards can prevent many students from taking out unwise loans, by making lenders reluctant to finance such loans.
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            • Posted by 4 years, 2 months ago
              I'm not suggesting anyone be insulated from the consequences of their own decisions... And if we can't eliminate the student loan program completely, your suggestion of sound lending standards is certainly a good idea.
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      • Posted by dwlievert 4 years, 2 months ago
        dark_star: Outstanding observation, though mitigating someone's poor choices by legal action is not in ANYONE"S interest! Except, of course, those who, psychologically, wish to evade responsibility for said choices..

        On the other hand (Geezz! I am sounding like an economist!), would not successful class actions perhaps be "sobering" and instructive to those alums who provide the endowments, through which nonsense, masquerading as insight and wisdom, seemingly sustain their perceived credulity???!!!
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      • Posted by bspielb 4 years, 2 months ago
        One of the standards that some of these professors are not being held to, especially after tenure is achieved is the requirement to continue their own education. Another standard not monitored or blatantly ignored is providing innovation that can draw students to a school without some advisor selling a bill of goods that he KNOWS will not improve the kid's lot in life. Lastly is a requirement to maintain objectivity in teaching so that these kids have a well rounded education showing all possibilities for their direction after college. If those three things that used to be required of even tenured professors were enforced the quality of education would rebound and not every class would be a social 'sciences' class.
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  • Posted by $ blarman 4 years, 2 months ago
    If we're going to blame someone, what we need to do is look at the entire government/university collusion which has taken place over the past 60 years or so. If we look back, we see that it used to be that only a relative handful of people went to acquire higher education simply because most jobs didn't really need it. (I would also argue that the quality of education being obtained through primary education was also much better.) But then after WWII, we started seeing many universities turn from education facilities into profit centers, especially via the rise of sporting events (football). As the technology behind the sporting events increased, so have the costs that go with having a competitive team. It's not uncommon for a top-tier school in the Group of Five conferences to be paying $3-4 million per year for the coach alone for 14 (hopefully) games. I'm not going to comment as to the actual value, I just bring it up because this is a primary driver for the costs of the institution which only partially get covered by ticket sales.

    Then you have a second prong and that is the government subsidization of education via grants (Pell) and student aid, which - contrary to what people actually believe - actually make higher education more expensive as has been shown in many scholarly articles.

    The last piece is that businesses have bought into the notion that somehow having a bachelor's degree is now the minimum bar of entrance into the workforce - even for jobs that don't really benefit from much of the "core" mandated by University accreditation boards. I get how a degree in Accounting is beneficial for the accountants, business management for managers, and specific training for doctors and lawyers, but there are many other programs which are pretty useless. Graphic designers would be far better suited to learn by internship/apprenticeship than learning from outdated tools and old design style. All of the computer professions are a complete joke being taught at the university. (I knew more than most of my professors in my classes, but I needed that piece of paper!) I think that as an education model, we'd do well to encourage more trade schools and apprenticeship programs than to continually churn out pieces of paper. But those pieces of paper are big money to the colleges, electoral leverage for politicians, income for the banks (student loans are immune from bankruptcy proceedings), and a perceived necessity for businesses. It's a big rat race where the real cheese is kept in a room high above the fray, with only its aroma to keep us turning that little wheel.
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  • Posted by drthorn 4 years, 2 months ago
    They need to make it a priority to be sure students are seeking job specific majors. We pay for our children's college, so they can graduate and get a job. The counselors are not oriented in this way.
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  • Posted by NealS 4 years, 2 months ago
    What a fantastic idea!!! I feel this case could actually be won in a legitimate court. Of course then everyone that ever went to college would file suit to get on the bandwagon.
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 4 years, 2 months ago
    I like the idea of imposing a sliding scale of justifiable loan amounts tied to the demonstrated pay scale for the profession associated with a particular degree. Medical, business, and STEM degrees would permit the larger student loans, with education next. Social justice education would be at the bottom of the pile.
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  • Posted by jimslag 4 years, 2 months ago
    I went to college long before the government got into the student loan scam business. When I went, you paid as you went and I used a mixture of saved money from a variety of jobs, money my grandparents gave me and housing provided by my aunt and uncle. You went to school until you graduated or the money ran out. I fell into the latter category and dropped out after 4 semesters due to lack of funds. Many lifetimes later, I finished my degree courtesy of the United States Navy and it's College Afloat and Overseas programs. I also had an accomplished career in the military that has given me lots of good and bad memories. So, I now have 2 degrees, not worth much and work only part time repairing the machines we use all the time but it pays the bills. I guess I got what I wanted, a career that will never go away because somebody has to repair the machines that replace the workers.
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  • Posted by mgarbizo1 4 years, 2 months ago
    Let's see, who is responsible for the changes in student loan funding back in 2004/2008? Certainly not the colleges and universities because they provide a service that those loans are used towards. Perhaps our government's decision to overstep their boundaries and legislate to make college "affordable" for everyone is the real problem here. Its great to want everyone to go to college, but bottom line, when the government tries to get involved instead of letting the market place take its natural course, you get useless degrees as a result of useless money being thrown around like it grows on trees...I'm sure uncle sam is still funding projects (and grants) towards this end as well.
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