Class-action lawsuit alleges Capella University lied about time, cost of advanced degrees – Twin Cities

Two former students say Minneapolis-based Capella University lied about how much time and money it would take to complete an advanced degree.

Kansas resident Carolyn Wright and Debbra Kennedy of Tennessee filed a class-action lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court in Minnesota.

Wright, who began pursuing a doctor of nursing practice in spring 2014, said she was told it would take two years and cost about $35,000. But Capella’s website later said the program takes 30 months, the complaint alleges, and that figure was then revised to 39 months.

Wright said she earned top grades and paid $53,000 before the online school assigned her a new instructor who said she’d “have to start all over” on her project. She tried to fight it but finally left for another school.

Kennedy started school in February 2014 in a doctorate of education capstone program advertised to take three years. The complaint alleges Capella later said the program actually takes 45 months but that fewer than 10 students managed to finish in that time.

Kennedy earned high grades but made little progress in her dissertation. With debt piling up after more than $100,000 in tuition payments, she dropped out of the program, one-fifth of the way toward her degree.

THE SCHOOL RESPONDS

Capella responded to the complaint with a written statement:

“We are proud of our programs and dedicated to our learners. This suit is without merit,” spokesman Mike Buttry said.

‘ENDLESS ROUTINE OF HURDLES’

The complaint says the students suffered from “decreasing resources, faculty turnover, disorganization and a lack of oversight. … Capella created an endless routine of hurdles and benefitted from additional tuition payments.”

And because the students took classes online, they couldn’t see that other students were having the same problems.

The complaint accuses Capella of spending heavily on marketing to grow enrollment while neglecting education quality.

In 2009, it says, Capella spent $1,650 per student on instruction and $4,538 per student on marketing; the school’s profit was $2,912 per student.

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