What’s the deal with Trump University—and why is Trump getting sued by his students?

The “fake university” is a big thorn in the Donald’s side.
The “fake university” is a big thorn in the Donald’s side.
Image: AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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Florida senator Marco Rubio hit fellow Republican candidate Donald Trump with a number of zingers during the Feb. 25 CNN/Telemundo debate. The one that seems to have really stung, however, was a remark about Trump University.

Trump University was a series of real estate seminars, now defunct, that is involved in three ongoing lawsuits in which former students allege that “the enterprise bilked them out of their money with misleading advertisements,” according to The Washington Post. Google Trends data show that interest in the project skyrocketed during last night’s debate.

“A fake university!” Rubio exclaimed. “And you know what they got, they got to take a picture with a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump. That’s what they got for $36,000.”

The actual cost was much higher, at least for some of the plaintiffs currently suing the organization. The former students allege they were misled into paying up to $60,000 in fees for Trump University seminars. “The lawsuit against the school, which is no longer in business, alleges the seminars turned into little more than an ‘infomercial’ and the Trump mentors offered ‘no practical advice’ and ‘mostly disappeared,’” Yahoo! News reports.

Texas senator Ted Cruz piled on: “It’s a fraud case,” he told the crowd assembled in Houston. “I want you to think that if this man is the nominee, having the Republican nominee on the stand in court being cross-examined about whether he committed fraud. You don’t think the main-stream media won’t go crazy on that?”

The final pre-trial conference is scheduled for May 6, and the judge could pull the trial up as early as the following week—smack dab in the middle of the GOP primary schedule: Nebraska and West Virginia vote on May 10, Oregon on May 17, Washington state on May 24, and California on June 7.

Trump and his attorneys, however, aren’t backing down. They’ve publicly defended the school, CNN Money reports, though it changed its name to “The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative” after New York education regulators objected to the use of the word “university.”