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Getting a professional certification or earning your degree can help move your career to the next level. But some for-profit schools promise a lot more than they can deliver, leaving you on the hook to pay for schooling but not qualified to do the job you paid to train for. To stop those unsupported – and sometimes outright false – promises, the FTC brought charges against Professional Career Development Institute. You may know them as Ashworth College. The FTC announced today that Ashworth settled the FTC’s charges that they misrepresented what their programs could do for students.

According to the FTC, the company misled prospective students into thinking that studies at Ashworth provide the necessary education and training to get a job in a new field. The company’s ads touted its programs as being “designed to ensure you are job-ready” or that you could “graduate and be ready for a new career in just 24 weeks.” Ashworth promised that graduates of its programs would have the “credentials [to] apply for jobs [or] change careers.” Ashworth’s marketing encouraged people to get more information from their “Admissions Advisors” who are actually sales people trained in high-pressure tactics and paid based on how many students they enrolled.

But, despite all the hype, many of Ashworth’s programs did not meet the standards of state licensing bodies. You may have paid thousands of dollars to Ashworth and wound up not qualified to even apply for the required state license in your chosen field – never mind get a job in it.

The FTC also charged Ashworth with misrepresenting that course credits students earned there could transfer to other schools. In reality, Ashworth had no basis for that promise; they never actually monitored whether their students were able to transfer credits. In fact, Ashworth lacked the type of accreditation that many schools require to accept transfer credits. If you attended Ashworth intending to transfer credits to another institution, you were in for a surprise – most likely, no credits would transfer and you’d have to start from scratch.  

If you’re considering an educational program, ask these questions before you sign on the dotted line:

  1. What’s the total cost and how will I pay for it? Will I pay by course or by semester? Remember to include fees for books or equipment. In general, federal student loans will give you more favorable terms than a private loan. Learn more at StudentAid.gov. Also consider options like community college which may offer similar programs for a fraction of the price.
  2. Will I earn the credentials I want? Don’t commit to any program unless you understand how you will complete it. Ask the school whether its degree or program requirements have changed in the past. If so, ask how often and why. If you’re pursuing a profession that requires a license, contact your state licensing organization to find out what training and credentials they require to grant one. If the school’s program doesn’t match up with the licensing requirements, you won’t be qualified to get a license – or a job – in that field.
  3. Can I transfer credits I earned? Your ability to transfer credits depends a lot on the type of accreditation held by the school where you earned the credits. "National” accreditation, despite its name, is actually less widely accepted than “regional” accreditation.
  4. Is there pressure to enroll? Is a recruiter or advisor rushing you to commit? Recruiters, whom some schools also might refer to as “counselors” or “academic advisors,” may be paid based on how many students they bring in. Before you decide on a program, read the materials, including the contract. If the school refuses to give you documents to review before you commit, don’t enroll. Period.

Study up on Choosing a college to learn more.

Tagged with: college, school, student
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Jobs & Making Money

Comments

they do this at ITT schools as well, my son went there and is paying off a student loan and ITT has not helped him at all

Please go after Kaplan University next. What you just wrote looks like something that came from my journal of my 4 years of experience with them, almost exact.

Follow up: I am 52 years old and disabled. The government allowed so much to spend on me to get my bachelors degree. during the end of my 3rd year and start of the 4th, I became a victim of ID theft. I was going to school on-line. The ID thieves filed my federal taxed then ruined a brand new Dell laptop. It put me to where I had no way to get on-line, so with 169 credits earned of 180 needed, Kaplan had billed me for 3 classes that I started but couldn't finish without a computer. Kaplan also gave my three F's to where I would have to re-take them. This wiped out my funding. So, after 3-1/2 years of slave homework, I am 11 credits short of getting my BS in legal studies I need to enter law school. I would have to pay out of pocket to re-take those classes at $1600 per class. I tried to start at 11 other universities, but out of those 169 credits, the most I transfer to any other school was 55 of them in Missouri, meaning that if I did that I would basically have to take my whole bachelors degree all over again and out of pocket. 3-1/2 LONG years to fall short because of 11 credits. There's supposed to be a class action suit starting against Kaplan, and I am in!!! I waited 18 years so I could raise my girls and put them first so I could try for a law degree, but NOT to have Kaplan smash my dream like they did. I begged them to let me finish my other 11 credits, but nothing doing until they get paid twice for the same 3 classes.

If you got federal financial aid to pay for the school, you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. To file a complaint, go to ed.gov/misused or call 1-800-MIS-USED (1-800-647-8733).

You also can report the problem to your state Attorney General and the FTC.

Oh for heaven's sakes, public schools do the same thing. My daughter couldn't transfer credits from a community college to her prestigious 4 year liberal arts school.

Check the language on public colleges sites: UGA Upon completion of the program, you will be certified to teach students with mild disabilities. Think that's only in GA

Would someone please tell me how on earth Everest college suckers millions of dollars from students, suddenly decides to close the school and leaves us students to pay not only federal loans but private loans as well?! Then to rub salt in our wounds, many of us didn't get to complete the course so now we don't have jobs, didn't get the education we're still paying for, and struggling to keep our credit afloat by making payments for loans with money we don't have!!!! Tell me how this is possible??

The US Department of Education has information for students at Corinthian Colleges (Everest, Heald and WyoTech).

Well what are they going to do about these schools? Just sue them and let them keep ripping off people??? I am attending Ashworth College. Will they tell me the truth if am going to receive my Associate's Degree?

Another scam is College Network. I am responsible for a 10,000 loan. No one answers the phone from the accounting department. I contacted my academic counselor (who is no longer working for them) and she told me she thinks that college network is out of business. I can not get a straight answer from anyone.

If you have federal loans, go to the Department of Education’s StudentAid.gov to find out more about applying for forgiveness and cancellation, or other programs like income-driven repayment plans. Information about one kind of loan forgiveness, known as a borrower defense discharge, is available here.  Applying for any of these programs is free.

If you have private loans, try contacting your loan servicer directly about your options. 

I graduated from Kaplan in 2011. I have not been able to obtain a job, and I have written to the college and the Florida Department of Education. I was not successful going this path, and I am still in debt that I have not been able to pay because of finding a part time underpaid job. So much for having a BS degree with a 4.0 GPA.

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