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FTC: Stratford diplomas didn’t deliver

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You never got your high school diploma, but realize now is the right time. You find a high school diploma program, work hard studying and taking exams, and finally, get a diploma.

Or so you think. When you go to enroll in college, you find out the diploma you got from the program that advertised “real” high school diplomas isn’t accepted. Which means your diploma doesn’t count. 

According to the FTC, that’s what happened to people who enrolled in Stratford Career Institute’s online distance education school. Today, the FTC announced a lawsuit against the school for making misleading claims that its diploma program would help people get jobs or further their education.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Stratford advertised its high school equivalency program online and in letters, brochures, magazine ads, and TV commercials, saying “it’s never too late to get your diploma.” People who enrolled paid as much as $989 for the program, which consisted of study packets and exams, and often took people more than two years to complete.

But according to the FTC, people who completed the program later found out from colleges and employers that Stratford’s diploma wasn’t equivalent to a traditional high school diploma, and wouldn’t be accepted.  The FTC’s complaint notes that Stratford’s program doesn’t meet the minimum educational requirements for high school diplomas in many states.

Want to know more about getting a legitimate high school equivalency diploma? Read High School Diploma Scams.

Blog Topics: 
Jobs & Making Money


As a read about this big problem, I been sending to collection for the amount $ 849.00 from date 12/01/2012 but they never explain to me about the course, I think this is fraude, what can I do? help me

Don't feel bad I have 3 collection on my account with Stratford and I didn't even enroll but yet they took money from my card. I've sent them emails stating that this wasn't me & they NEVER responded back. I reported this to the credit bureaus. I want the money taken from my card refunded and I want them to remove all the collections they put on my report which is hurting my credit badly.

If the credit reporting companies haven't taken care of the errors, you may want to use the tips in this FTC article about disputing errors on your credit reports.

It's impossible to cancel an SCI course unless you have a time machine. The contract states you have to cancel within like 14 days of enrolling but you cannot receive the course materials and send them back in that time. They also lie and say they never got it back or got it after the 14 days because most students don't send it back registered mail. Actually two pieces of registered mail, the book and a letter of cancel both need to be sent separate and registered. No one ever did that, so they would get the book back and throw out the accompanying letter. To me that is an even worse scam than the lack of accreditation, how is that not fraud? I worked there for a short time, I don't think saw anyone cancel successfully. Most just end up at collections agencies.
The culture there is to treat the students as stupid, suckers. They prey on poor rural people, ignorant people, African Americans. The people working there print up diplomas for each other as a joke. There is a wall where they put up students art to laugh at it.
The guy that owns it is a millionaire. I am actually shocked the FTC complaint was on the first page of Google, they manipulate those results. I have never seen anything but glowing reviews on the first several pages of Google. It's an organized scam, very well organized. I was never allowed to say they weren't accredited unless the student actually asked. Even then the answer was "we don't have a list of schools that recognize the diploma", which is true because there aren't any. The High School Diploma program is by far the most popular program, and making the argument that people are taking it just to learn is absurd. They are taking it because they think it it can be used to get into college. So many people called in crying when they learned no school anywhere recognized the diploma. They should not be allowed to call it a diploma. I hope this place gets shut down, I feel guilty I worked there. I tell people I needed a job in Montreal and couldn't find one so I worked at a crooked diploma mill.

It's important for you to share this information with law enforcement.

Please go to and file a report. You can choose how much personal information to give. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement agencies nationwide use for their investigations.

You can also call 1-877-382-4357 to make a report.

I took a gardening and landscaping course and they sent me a diploma is it accredited to go to work somewhere or will I need to file a complaint

I paid in cash to study cosmetology. I worked hard and got my diploma then found out when I went to a local college that they don't accept the diploma, transcript, or "credits". I tried several and cried myself to sleep everytime. I would have to do everything from scratch and my money was wasted. I don't know where to go out what to do it if I can even get my money back. Help?

You can report this to the FTC, which already has a case against Stratford. Please go to and file a report. You can choose how much personal information to give. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement agencies nationwide use for their investigations. Or, you can call the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 to report.

You can also contact your state Attorney General’s office and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Both those places will take a complaint, and might have more ideas about what you could do to get money back.

With Stratford career institute i got diploma for science training and ITT checked that i could going to college.In my country(VN) i got Baccalaureate 1 and 2 in Math elementary ,and i was able to study at National institute at Saigon through examination..11 years public works for the Republic of VN and after 1975 we were sent to"re-education".Since 2008 i was laid-off and no unemployment benefit or disability benefits ...and denied payment for interpretation for our ethnic jorai language..with Fluentlanguage solution..WakeMed or Duke didn't accept me to be translated ..In the future i think i would face no money to pay for to rest in the end of life?

I'm enroll in Stratford so what can I do to get my money back or some at least

There is an update for this. Read the FTC's announcement that Stratford has agreed to return money to people it deceived. 

I'm one lesson away and that mean I will receive no ged or diploma what should I do.

What are some schools that we can enroll in that our diplomas will be accepted

I'm a student and I have received Real estate Appraisal and Criminal justice and high school diploma from Stratford university. It clearly states the education isn't accredited on the website.It does state you would find a job. These are crash courses to prepare the individual for the actual GED or career choice. So when you get to the real testing your prepared. People should read carefully before registering into online schools. I know I read carefully. ✌✌✌✌

Like many others I too obtained my so called High School diploma with SCI, which I found out later was useless. I wanted to enroll in college and obtain another degree and that's when they told me that this is not a legit HS diploma. I completed it in 2009. I filed the complaint with FTC recently and also contacted the SCI for a refund which they said will not honor. I'm hoping this lawsuit helps the students that got their diploma before 2011 as well. At that time they claimed that they were accredited, now they are backing up.

Hello;whom ever concern, my name is LazarusLH,
i'm once of yours student,from enrollments of Stratford career instituted.I'v finishing my study assignment with your school. How long does it's taken to receive my diploma?

Stratford has a legal settlement with the FTC.

Stratford must pay $250,000 to give students partial refunds.  This page tells about the refunds.  

The FTC does not have information about diplomas.

Trying to check on a refund from Stafford Institute filed in September

Whats a shame that they miss lead people, you don't know what people have to go through and the money that they use to get their high school diploma.doing that's a lot it should be something that they can do about it so people can get their diploma so they wont have to do it again know people have to start all over when they don't even have the money or the time cause it was a lot of work, they should honor it and give the people that finished the whole high school program, its not our fault that they lied to us, i wish other programs would honor it and have us pay a fee to get the real diploma instead of starting all over again

I havent finish yet close and I get in the mail now What I am reading is true can't use this and I payed in full .. An I only get $26.74 back from 989.00 that it .. That just great I am working so hard to get done do I could show my kids I can do it to . now I look like a failer I would love to have all my money back this is wrong I only get this back ..

That is crap i paid in full 790.00 and i didnt finish because of this law suit stuff. I got 26.74 and thats all i get for paying 790.00 dollars. I think they should have to pay back all of wat people had paid . its are hard working money

I was very disappointed that I had to pay 300 dollars in cancellation fees and I did not finish the high school program it sounded to good to be true but it really wasn't

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