On March 31, a judge approved a $25 million settlement in the class-action lawsuit against President Trump and Trump University.
For thousands of students, this settlement offers much-needed relief. Find out the details of the Trump University settlement and what you can do if you attended Trump University.
What is Trump University?
The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, or Trump University, was a learning course headed by Donald Trump. The initiative offered classes in real estate investing, wealth creation, management, and entrepreneurship. Instructors taught the curriculum with a mix of live lectures, online classes, and home study materials.
However, Trump University was not an accredited school. It didn’t offer any degrees, college credits, or certifications. Trump’s team designed the school to help would-be entrepreneurs gain insight into how to launch their own businesses.
In New York, the state cited the school for violating its education laws. Trump’s team called the program a university, even though it did not offer degrees. Students paid up to $35,000 to enroll and get access to Trump University instructors.
Trump University lawsuit
The lawsuit against Trump University has gone on for about seven years. Former students claimed that representatives misled them about the course’s effectiveness and outcomes. The school faced two class action lawsuits and one civil suit over the issue.
Trump defended the school vehemently. Trump and representatives from the school say that their claims were truthful and that they offered a valuable program. During his campaign, Trump denied any wrongdoing and said he would not settle the suits. But after becoming President, he said he did not have the time for a trial.
Trump University settlement details
The settlement impacts approximately 6,000 students. It includes a $1 million penalty paid to the state of New York for violating education laws.
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel oversaw the case. According to him, former students will get at least 80 percent of the money they spent to enroll back through the settlement.
“The amount offered in settlement provides significant and immediate recovery,” Curiel wrote in court documents.
Over half of the school’s former students submitted claims to be part of the Trump University lawsuit. That is a high rate for a class action suit. But experts suggest there is so much participation because of the high level of media attention the case received.
The court appointed the Better Business Bureau to administer the settlement fund. They have already verified 2,471 claims requesting $21.3 million in refunds. They expect hundreds more to complete the process.
Am I eligible for a portion of the settlement?
If you’re eligible to be part of the settlement, you would have received notices of the lawsuit. These notices gave you the option to object, opt out, or participate in the class action lawsuit. In total, 13 people opted out of the Trump University lawsuit, declining to receive any money from the settlement.
To be eligible for a portion of the settlement, former students had to submit a claim form by March 6, 2017. If you missed the deadline, you can’t receive a refund.
What if I missed the deadline?
If you missed the deadline, you’re ineligible to be part of the settlement, but you do have a few options. If you still have credit card debt or personal loans from your experience with Trump University, there are ways to ease the burden.
One option is to do a balance transfer to a low-interest card or personal loan. A lower interest rate can help you save money and pay back the debt faster. Alternatively, you can consolidate your debt to take advantage of better interest rates and repayment terms.
Implications of for-profit schools and programs
The Trump University lawsuit is just the latest example of a for-profit school or program facing scrutiny. Organizations such as the Better Business Bureau are investigating courses that have no accreditation but claim to offer valuable information — like Trump University. This is in an effort to protect students from spending money unnecessarily.
For more information on the dangers of for-profit programs, check out five reasons you should avoid for-profit schools at all costs.
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