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News10NBC Investigates: You think RIT sues former students a lot? Wait until you see SUNY

Berkeley Brean
Updated: February 04, 2020 06:25 PM
Created: February 04, 2020 05:07 PM

NEW YORK (WHEC) — At Thanksgiving, a News10NBC investigation found RIT sued 159 students in two years for unpaid tuition and loans. 

At the time we thought that was, by far, the most of any college and university in the state. 

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But because of that story, we got tipped off about what SUNY does. And since the day the RIT aired, SUNY has sued 625 students. 

And News10NBC found out how SUNY and New York State are doing it so it's not obvious to you. 

When RIT sues, they put their name on it. But when it comes to SUNY, it's the New York State Attorney General's office filing the complaint. So unless you know the lawyer's name, which we do, you would never find these lawsuits. 

"I wasn't surprised that RIT was suing students for tuition bills because I see these cases frequently," attorney Anna Anderson said. 

Anderson is with a non-profit legal office in Rochester called Law NY. She's the person who told me about the SUNY lawsuits. 

When I started working on this story six months ago, I searched for SUNY or individual schools like The College at Brockport or SUNY Geneseo.

But when I did, the database said "there's aren't any "cases" that match your search criteria ..."

So it appears that SUNY never sues. 

But Anderson shared the name of the lawyer in the State Attorney General's office that files all the cases and when I search the name, that's when hundreds of lawsuits appear. 

625 in two and a half months. 

Anna Anderson, Supervising Attorney at Law NY: "They even have a whole unit at the State Attorney General's office that is focused on collecting on these unpaid tuition debts for SUNY."

Brean: "You're saying the State Attorney General's office has a specific office that is going after out-standing tuition for former students?"

Anderson: "Yes. That's their entire job. It's a student collection unit."

And Anderson says the problem with that is this: "Just because SUNY says you owe a bill doesn't necessarily mean that's true."

Coming up in a story new on News10NBC at 11 p.m., you'll meet a student who got sued and you'll learn what the state did to his paychecks. 

And we'll expose the one thing the state does that makes it harder on SUNY students specifically to fight these claims.


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