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Walden University, a for-profit online university, has settled a class-action lawsuit that accused the institution of targeting women and Black students with false advertising. The university has agreed to pay a $28.5 million settlement, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The university, which is headquartered in Minneapolis, reportedly misled prospective students about the length of time it would take to complete doctorate degrees in business administration and collected millions of dollars in extra tuition payments and fees as a result, according to the lawsuit. It alleged that Walden purposely prolonged academic projects required for the degrees.

The settlement was announced Thursday. Walden officials said in a written statement that it agreed to the settlement “in pursuit of the best interests of all parties involved,” U.S. News reported.

“Students alleged that Walden masked deception as diversity by targeting their DBA degrees at Black and female students who were hoping to advance their careers,” Aaron Ament, president of the National Student Legal Defense Network, told U.S. News. The organization filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Maryland along with civil rights law firm Relman Colfax.

Inside Higher Ed reported in 2023 that Walden topped the list of institutions where graduate students owed more collectively than what they borrowed to pay for college. According to an analysis of students’ debt and earnings, Walden’s graduate students who took out loans in 2013–14 and 2014–15 owed $289 million more in loans five years after entering repayment, the article said.