For-profit college risk: Huge debt, questionable degree
By Stephanie Chen, CNN
A class-action lawsuit alleges Westwood College used deceptive recruitment practices
GAO report revealed 15 for-profit universities used deceptive recruiting practices
Dane Lockman, 33, took out $40,000 in student loans to pay for Westwood
He doesn’t have enough money to pay back his loans, which has ruined his credit
At least 750 former Westwood students and employees have come forward with complaints about the school engaging in deceptive recruiting practices that have left some students with an unmanageable amount of debt, according to a class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, Colorado, in August.
Some students, like Lockman, have also complained that the school failed to give them accurate information about future job prospects or whether their degrees would be recognized by other schools or employers.
“This is a massive problem that’s going to change the face of education if this isn’t corrected,” said Jillian Estes, an attorney at the Florida law firm James, Hoyer, Newcomer, Smiljanich & Yanchunis P.A., which filed the suit against Westwood. “This isn’t only about the students; this is about you and I. Taxpayer money is funding the deceptive practices these schools are using. This has to be everyone’s problem.”
Westwood College, owned by Alta Colleges Inc., is one of about 3,000 for-profit colleges in the country. The college denies claims made in the lawsuit and has filed a defamation suit against the law firm. The defamation suit is pending.
This summer, the multibillion-dollar for-profit college industry has come under the scrutiny of the U.S. Senate. Some government officials say the industry is regulated too loosely. Senate hearings in August revealed government findings that 15 for-profit schools, including Westwood, were encouraging fraudulent practices among students. For example, some schools were caught suggesting that prospective students hide their savings to secure more federal aid.
Across the country, other for-profit schools are facing their own legal battles. …
Our Chicago consumer rights attorneys are pursuing and investigating class-action lawsuits against for profit trade schools that have allegedly duped students into taking classes even though there is little or no prospect of the students obtaining work in the field after taking the course. We have obtained class certification in one such case and seeking to file other cases under the correct factual circumstances.
If you have been duped into paying a subtantial sum to a for profit trade school only to find that it is impossible to find a job in the field, please contact one of our Chicago consumer rights lawyers online by clicking here. DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle’s Chicago consumer class action attorneys have been handling consumer rights and class action cases for over a quarter century. You can view the the types of cases we have handled at our website.