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Cost of Education — Interesting Transparency Development in Response to Recent CFPB and DOE’s investigations?

We’ve been getting very interested lately in how schools, particularly for-profit schools, are representing the cost of education at their institutions.  At ITT for instance, we’re learning that students were for the most part simply left in the dark about what their education would cost.  By the time they learned the true cost, it was too late and they were already committed.  They were also told that any shortfall in tuition that was not covered by federal financial aid would be covered by “temporary credits”.  Some of our clients are reporting to us that they didn’t know these were actually loans.  Others were aware they were loans but were told they were 0% loans.  Then nine months later, ITT demanded payment in full of the amount representing the “temporary credits”.  When most student couldn’t pay all at once (95% or more most likely) they were provided with a private loan at 13-16% with a 10% origination fee.  That’s 23-26% interest folks!!  None of this was fully explained up front.  This will be the basis for one of our claims in our Defense to Repayment cases.

Also this week the CFPB enforced an order whereby institutional student loans held by a western school were discharged and refunds ordered when a college misrepresented the low payment plans.  Apparently they promised $25 payment plans or something to that effect.  I haven’t had time to find and review the allegations behind the Order.

Today in the ABA Journal, I read that the University of Tulsa College of Law is reducing its tuition by 35%.  They state that the reduction is to bereally transparent about the cost of legal education.”  Interesting.  Transparency.  Were they less than transparent last year?  Now I haven’t been following the University of Tulsa since my law practice is in Florida, either they are ahead of the curve and we can expect more of the same from other schools who want to avoid scrutiny or perhaps they are already under scrutiny.

The University of Tulsa College of Law, a private institution, is reducing tuition and ending its regional scholarship plan for the next school year.  This year, tuition at the law school is $37,960, the National Jurist reports. In 2017, it will be $24,600. TU Law announced the new tuition level earlier this month.  “This tuition reduction is designed to be really transparent about the cost of legal education,” said Lyn Entzeroth, the law school’s dean, to the National Jurist.

Thirty-five percent is quite a reduction.  I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it had something to do with maintaining its accreditation and wasn’t a voluntary choice.   But again, I don’t follow this college and have never spoken with anyone who has attended.  For all I know they just finished paying off a large building or something and have excess profits.  Or they have a nearby competitor with better pricing.  But if some other reason caused the tuition reduction, then why say they want to be really transparent about the cost of legal education?

Lack of transparency may be enough to prevail under a Florida Statute like the Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.  We are using that in conjunction with the new Defense to Repayment regulations coming out Nov. 1.  For more information, please check out our website at Christie D. Arkovich, P.A., scroll back through our blog – we’ve been covering this new program, and check out our reviews if you are considering hiring us to help with your student loans.

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