Capella University Lawsuit 2021: Broken Promises and Degrees Delayed


Imagine you’re a working adult, juggling family, career, and the burning ambition to earn a higher degree. You choose Capella University, an online institution promising flexible schedules and accelerated programs. But what happens when the promised fast track turns into a marathon with no finish line?

That’s the crux of the 2021 lawsuit against Capella University, filed by a group of doctoral students in nursing and education programs. Their accusations? Misrepresentation of program length, inflated graduation rates, and a bait-and-switch curriculum that kept them enrolled (and paying) longer than expected.

The lawsuit painted Capella as a degree mill, more interested in maximizing tuition than student success. They alleged that Capella:

Downplayed the actual time to earn a degree: Instead of the advertised 3-5 years, students claimed it took significantly longer, with many dropping out due to the extended workload and hidden hurdles.
Fudged graduation rates: The lawsuit questioned the accuracy of Capella’s reported graduation rates, suggesting they didn’t reflect the true completion rate for students who started the program.
Used a bait-and-switch curriculum: Students felt lured in by promises of relevant coursework, only to discover the curriculum changed, adding unnecessary courses and delaying graduation.

The lawsuit resonated with many Capella students, prompting the Department of Education to investigate. They initiated a “borrower defense to repayment” process, allowing students who felt misled to seek loan forgiveness.

While the lawsuit was settled in 2022, its impact lingers. It raises questions about the ethics of for-profit education and the responsibility universities have to accurately represent their programs.

Did Capella mislead its students? Was the lawsuit justified? The answers may be buried in the complexities of online education, student expectations, and the ever-evolving landscape of higher learning.


Q: Is Capella University still facing legal challenges?

A: Not currently, but the 2021 lawsuit and subsequent Department of Education investigation highlight ongoing concerns about their practices.

Q: Can I get my student loans forgiven if I attended Capella?

A: You can apply for borrower defense to repayment if you feel Capella misled you about your program. Consult with a legal professional for guidance.

Q: Are online universities less reliable than traditional ones?

A: Not necessarily, but it’s crucial to research the university’s reputation, accreditation, and program details before enrolling.

Q: What can I do to protect myself from misleading educational programs?

A: Ask detailed questions about program length, cost, graduation rates, and curriculum. Compare options from accredited institutions and seek independent reviews.

Q: Is there a future for for-profit education?

A: The future depends on their ability to operate with transparency, ethical practices, and a genuine focus on student success.


Twin Cities Pioneer Press:
K Altman Law:

Remember, education is an investment. Choose wisely and don’t hesitate to ask questions before taking the plunge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *