What constitutes fraudulent/misleading education?

Some years back I pursued a master’s degree in Divinity with a small religious university in southwest Michigan. I did so at the behest of my pastor who felt I had a “calling” and should pursue leadership within the church. Out of a sincere belief in the faith, I uprooted my life and moved to southwest Michigan to get this degree. I found out after I was enrolled that the overwhelming majority of students in the grad program were sponsored by their individual regional churches which meant their education was either fully or heavily subsidized by the church. By contrast, even though my pastor had encouraged me to go, there was no discussion whatsoever about subsidization. Nobody at the university told me about this, I found out through the grapevine.

So I thought, “No problem, I’ll just talk to the dean of the program!” I met with the guy and he tells me there is a really good chance for me because I’m young, I’m bright, I’m involved in the church, and I’m getting great grades. So I stick with the program, I get straight A’s for all of my classes, even the hard stuff like ancient languages. I really beat myself up studying and pushing for the top position in my class. And at the end of my program for two semesters in a row I attended a pastoral career fair. During that fair, delegates from all over the USA representing the various regions of the denomination were present and recruiting students.

I had a full schedule of interviews at both fairs. I dressed up nice, I was polished and professional, I even followed the school advice to pay for professional portrait photos with my wife so we would look the part. Not a single region jumped at me or even made me so much as an offer.

In fact, the region where I came from–Wisconsin–specifically told me they had a freeze on all hiring because of financial concerns and a downward trend in church membership. But then my good friends and fellow classmates went and interviewed immediately after me and were BOTH offered jobs as pastors. HOW DARE???

I continued to send out letters of interest and intent to regions all over the USA looking for a way to get my foot in the door. I just happened to bump into one of the most famous pastors in the denomination who befriended me and offered to write me a letter of recommendation. He gave me a glowing recommendation as did several of the professors in my program, all of whom are renowned and respected in the denomination. Still, despite years of trying, I never was offered a job.

So I feel that I was told there was a place for me and then I was either blackballed or just ignored because I wasn’t a ‘sponsored’ student. Either way, I took on tens of thousands of dollars of debt for an education that has, to date, earned me a grand total of $0 of income.

Do you all feel there might be grounds on which to state this was a fraudulent loan, or is that too anecdotal? If I have email transcripts from my professors and such dating back to that time, does that help any?

2 Likes

I don’t know the answers to your questions, but I and many others are in similar situations. Borrowed over $100k for a seminary education only to not find work in the church - or to find only half or quarter time positions that won’t pay my regular bills, let alone pay back my loans. It’s infuriating.

This is not very helpful. The federal government and Navient don’t give a hoot if I have had my sin debt paid. If you have the kind of faith that makes you call a pastoral education blasphemous, then why are you on this site? Doesn’t Jesus say:

Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
– Matthew 5:25-26

So if that’s the case, you had better hurry up and agree with the federal government and pay your debt with a smile and a song in your heart.

But of course that is the same vulgar obeisance Hitler and now the GOP has turned to in quoting Romans 13 as proof that you must slavishly obey everything the government says because governments only exist because god allows them to and therefore they are god’s instruments of justice on earth. Indeed, if you feel you must believe every word of the Bible, sell everything you have, quit your job, abandon your family and friends, and go teach the coming of Jesus Christ no matter what the consequences. Then you’ll have no income and no wage to be garnished so your debt is effectively cancelled anyway.

The rest of us have organizing work to do and don’t need shackles placed on us by someone claiming to be a comrade in the struggle, thank you very much. :rage:

DSWB,

I hate reading about sneaky things like this and ultimately, it makes me wonder who is invested on the backend to make money on pushing students into towards specific colleges.

Have you filed a DTR? Do you have any paperwork for this school? Anything that you can get your hands on to have copies is always beneficial as you never know if that paperwork will disappear.

It sounds like it was a lot verbal statements of them telling you a lie about obtaining the job once you got to the school but your pastor from your church is the start. Do a little research and see if there are any other cases or evidence of this to other students.

This might be a long shot but have you even confront the pastor about possible subsidizing the loans? I’m curious to hear what he says.

The loans are federal or private?

Lastly, there is the ibr and the pslf programs if you are able to explore outside the church for a job if you are not ready for a complete strike.

AD