An Open Letter to Augsburg University

Dear President Paul Pribbenow,

Augsburg University has a hold on my transcript and degree. And all I can say now is, you can keep it.

You can keep my degree and hold my transcripts forever. I am not asking you to help me anymore, because you have not. I am asking you to change. Please do better for the innocent and unknowing students who attend your university.

I gave Augsburg University everything I had and you took it. And you continue to take from me. I can’t afford it. And it’s disturbing. Not only do I have an inordinate amount of student loan debt, the student account balance I owe you cannot be consolidated. As a result, it is now negatively affecting my credit and employability. An expensive education has left me with crippling debt, and meanwhile the university has not helped me secure a career that would allow me to begin to pay it back.

Look at your school track and field record board. I rewrote it. My name is on the mile through the 10k. I earned the Elite 89 award, which is granted to the athlete with the highest GPA at the NCAA tournament. I earned All-American honors multiple times and received your female athlete of the year award. I graduated Summa Cum Laude. I earned Departmental Honors in Communication Studies. I’m not sharing any of my honors to brag, I’m sharing them to demonstrate the dichotomy. If this happened to me, it is happening to anyone at your university. While I was earning Augsburg positive attention through academic and athletic achievements, I was going hungry. I didn’t know whether I would be able to finish my degree, because there was no funding for my books and other necessities. Not only was I training and competing, but I was working a work-study job for near-minimum wage. After I graduated, I could not find a job no matter what I tried. I asked you for help with job connections or internships, but you offered none. I finally entered a retail position in desperation. Pure hunger and fear. I spent time homeless, because I couldn’t secure employment.
I’m done asking you for help. I’m asking you to change.

I’m sharing my story with whomever will listen with the hope that no one else will have to endure the needless pain I suffered during school and after graduating. If people ask me what I think of Augsburg University, I tell them what I am stating in this letter. This is a problem and I cannot remain quiet while I watch innocent others get set up for the same suffering.
I know I am not alone. My fellow graduates tell me they went into debt rather than gaining opportunities.

Augsburg University has a serious problem if their highest achieving and most well respected students are underemployed.

This is my sincere plea that you stop misleading innocent people into believing their financial investment at your university will secure them a better financial future. I ask that you acknowledge what you can do personally to help these young, vulnerable students. And I ask that you do it.


Lauren Rice


  1. You need to articulate more details.

    1) Why does Augsburg have a hold on your transcript and degree in the first place?
    2) How does your debt affect your employability?
    3) How is the massive student loan debt Augsburg’s fault? Isn’t this just your fault for choosing a an expensive private mediocre institution?
    4) Why are the accusations you’ve made against Augsburg (misleading innocent people) only specific to Augsburg? Seems like all schools similar to Augsburg (Most of the other MIAC schools) would market the exact same way.


    1. Hey Jake,
      Thank you for asking. There are so many details to go into that it becomes complex very quickly. Which is why I wrote this letter the way I did.
      1. Augsburg has a hold on my degree, because they offered to charge a student account for books and other necessities while I was in school. Since I couldn’t immediately pay the amount off after I graduated and I was not allowed to consolidate it, the debt was sent to collections. I haven’t been able to cover the amount.
      2. The debt in collections is available to employers who run thorough background checks, which is now most reputable employers. For example, I pursued a position with the FBI. I was stopped by this debt. Another example is pursuing graduate studies. I could not pursue them because of this debt and the hold on my degree.
      3. Each institution needs to take responsibility for their role in the crisis. I accept full responsibility for my mistake of attending Augsburg.
      4. I believe it is not specific to Augsburg. Augsburg is the school that did this to me and people I love. I hope that other students will take the same actions to create change.


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