The ‘new predators in higher education’


Ayelet Sheffey
June 1, 2023
Iola Favell wanted to go back to school to get her master’s degree in teaching.
Favell is a first-generation college student from California, and according to documents filed in a recent lawsuit, she felt it was important to earn her degree from a prestigious school. When she reviewed US News & World Report’s “2021 Best Education Schools” list, one program caught her eye — the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. It seemed like the perfect fit: USC was in her home state, its online option offered the flexibility of remote learning, and it was ranked No. 12 on the list.
She applied and was accepted to the online program in 2020. But when she graduated in May 2021, Favell took home more than just a degree — she was also stuck with a $100,000 student-debt load. Just over a year after she got her degree, Favell and two other students who attended Rossier filed a lawsuit against USC with the help of the borrower-protection group Student Defense and Tycko and Zavareei LLP, a public interest private law firm. They accused the program of providing misleading information that pushed them into paying for a program that wasn’t what it had been made out to be.