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Class-action lawsuit takes aim at Globe enrollment practices

When Alexenderia Romig-Palodichuk enrolled in Globe University’s medical assistant program, she was promised a job upon graduation, an over-the-top starting salary and the ability to transfer credits to further her education.

She was sold dreams, and delivered debt.

That’s according to a class action lawsuit the Woodbury student filed with four former students who attended various Globe University programs in Minnesota and South Dakota.

Court documents filed in Hennepin County District Court allege the school inflates salary wages, falsely advertises job opportunities in prestigious fields and overpromises credit transfer opportunities.

Globe has been criticized for its admission practices locally when a former dean won a whistleblower lawsuit against the school in August, and was awarded nearly $400,000 in damages by a Washington County jury.

The for-profit college industry as a whole has been the subject of heightened scrutiny and part of a two-year investigation by the U.S. Senate committee on health, labor and pensions, which found more than half of the students who enrolled in those colleges in 2008-09 left within just four months without a degree or diploma.

The investigation led by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, revealed that although for-profit colleges play an important role in higher education and they satisfy a growing demand, they’re not well-equipped to meet the needs of non-traditional students.

“For-profit colleges also ask students with modest financial resources to take a big risk by enrolling in high-tuition schools,” according to the report published in 2012. “When students withdraw, as hundreds of thousands do each year, they are left with high monthly payments but without a commensurate increase in earning power from new training and skills.”

Romig-Palodichuk borrowed a total of $65,000 in student loans, according to class-action suit filed Wednesday, Oct. 2, while other students involved in the lawsuit borrowed anywhere between $15,000 to $41,000 each. The class action represents students enrolled at Globe since 2007.

“Most of the people that we represent have paid Globe tens of thousands of dollars and they are unable to find jobs using their education, unable to transfer their credits,” said Scott Carlson, attorney for Halunen and Associates, the firm representing students. “Every dollar they paid to Globe was a waste and they ought to get it back.”

@subhead:Targeting ‘vulnerable students’

Noelle Jacquet-Morrison, a former Globe University recruiter who was hired in 2006 to start up Globe’s cosmetology program in Maplewood, left one year later after discovering allegedly unethical practices at the school.

“I had some good feeling when I started, but I was quick to be squashed of that,” she said. “It became apparent really quickly that at first they didn’t care about who you recruited and how you recruited.”

Jacquet-Morrison said the school preys on vulnerable students who couldn’t get into other four or two-year public or not-for-profit institutions.

“Especially in the cosmetology field,” she said. “They were women, older, or had children very young.”

Her supervisors instructed her to recruit as many students as possible, she said, with a minimum quota of about 40 students per semester, even if she had doubts about their ability to graduate.

“The name of the game was you enroll, you enroll, you enroll,” she said. “If you didn’t, your job is on the line.”

Globe University officials released a statement last Wednesday in response to the lawsuit stating the school has been committed to student success and that the allegations don’t reflect all students’ experiences.

“This is unfortunate and we are saddened that these students chose to handle their concerns in this way. Lawsuit aside, as a college you never want to hear that a student is unhappy with their education,” the statement said. “Although it is disappointing that even one student has something unfavorable to say about our schools, we know the sentiment of these five individuals does not reflect all, and we will not allow it to cast a black eye on the thousands of students proud to be a member of our schools.”

The school has been in compliance with state and federal laws, having below average loan default rates and valid accreditation status.

Globe has a 12.7 percent three-year default rate, which means 12.7 percent of students entering loan repayment after 2009 defaulted before 2011.

Minnesota School of Business, on the other hand, had a 17 percent rate, but it still falls below the 30 percent limit imposed by the federal government that may cause loss of funding.

For a more on the class-action lawsuit, see the Oct. 16 Woodbury Bulletin.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.