Apr 29, 2009

Beware of Online Schools

I have found out a lot about online schools recently...and it all started when I found out mine was associated with scams.

University of Phoenix is currently in the middle of a class action law suit because they are (allegedly) mishandling the funds and records of it's students. After the school changed CEO's a few years ago, former employees allege that admissions were to be gotten at any cost, at the risk of losing their jobs. In 2004, the school was in court for similar charges and were made to pay a few million dollars in fines. The current suit was brought up by "whistleblowers" made up of former employees.

Another allegation is that when a student (more often than not complaining of sub-par courses) withdraws, the school uses the student's information to pay off all loans and then bills the student directly for classes taken. If the student doesn't pay, it's reported on their credit report and UoP refuses to send their transcripts when the student transfers to another college.

The reason they do this is to keep their default rates down. A bit of research will tell you that their default rates are suspiciously low, by any standards. A low default rate enables them to look good to federal funding entities, as well as on Wall Street, as I understand it.

Do I believe this, you may ask? Yes, I do...because I was lied to when I signed up. I was told that if I chose to transfer, all of my credits would transfer successfully. I found out later that NONE of them would. I also found out that employers will laugh you out of an interview if you have a UoP's nowhere near marketable. I know from experience that all of your advisors, who were so attentive when you signed up, refuse to talk to you if you even consider taking time off. They suddenly went MIA and are still impossible to contact. I decided to withdraw completely.

I just found out the other day that, despite having sent in my withdrawal notice before the current session began, that I'm still on their student roster. True to the stories going around about them, they're waiting 27 days so they can "boot me out" based on "non-attendance". I was expecting this, so I made sure I had tangible proof of the date I withdrew and sent my forms.

I'm in negotiations to transfer to a reputable school with excellent credintials, but I'm expecting UoP to be a problem. I have the contact info for the plantiff attorneys for the lawsuit and also for a few of their current and former students who are interested in forming another suit. I'm prepared to seek legal counsel if I need to...all I need is for them to bill me for classes already paid for or to openly deny that I withdrew properly. If I'm forced to, I have no problem being a spoke on the wheel that brings them down. I have a HUGE problem with companies that deceive for profit.

It's not just UoP that's under the gun. Their parent company, Apollo Group, is also responsible for heading other online schools, such as College for Financial Planning and Western International Univ. AIU, WGU, Everest, Colorado Tech and others are also being called scam colleges.

My advice is if you're considering getting your degree online, do your research. I just found out that I didn't do a good enough job in that dept, while I thought I had. Know if the school is for-profit or not-for-profit and assess how this would affect the way they do business. Check the accreditation and then double-check it to be sure it's the kind you need for your career goals.

UoP's ACBSP accreditation for business is not recognized by many employers as a "respectable" accreditation, who prefer AACSB accreditation (the way I understand it, the latter is harder to for a school to get). I recently started telling others to check complaint boards, forums, ripoff reports, etc. for the schools their considering to see how current and former students rate it.

Being smart about choosing a school just got more complicated. With all the perks of the World Wide Web came all the downsides. You can get a quality education just have to do an extra bit of homework before signing your way into one.


  1. Its a good aware notice to keep away from online school frauds.


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  3. I want to be in a class action lawsuit against UoP. I feel terribly wronged by them and am looking for other people who want to join a class action lawsuit.

    Please contact me at (847) 578-0350 or with your story and support for a class action lawsuit against UoP.


    My story:

    I've been wanting out and UoP is basically wanting to hold me hostage by telling me to "stick with it". They've even threatened me with having to pay for MTE 508 (Models, Theories, and Instructional Strategies).

    According to the HELP pages there's supposed to be a withdrawal form if I go into 'PROGRAM' and then 'SERVICES'. However, there is NO form. I feel terribly deceived.

    I've been to numerous colleges and universities and had no problem withdrawing from a class or the institution itself. Now, all of a sudden, it seems impossible to get ahold of people and start a formal disenrollment process from the university itself.

    I've also withdrawn from classes from EVERY college and university I've ever been to and have NEVER had to pay for a class I withdrew from. My financial aid has ALWAYS covered withdrawn classes and I've been left to eventually owe financial aid back if it was paid for in the form of a loan.

    A letter was sent to me several months ago telling me when UoP was getting their disbursement and when I was getting mine and my financial aid counselor, Eileen Broom, even called to inform me that they had their money to cover 'x' amount of credit hours (classes). As far as I'm concerned, they already got the money to cover this course and now I owe the loan people back.

    I'm in terrible financial straights and am on the verge of going bankrupt (been 6 months now since I've been unemployed.) I don't know if I'll be able to afford to pay them anything if they come back at me and say I owe 'x' amount of dollars and what's worse is iIf I don't pay whatever they say I owe in 90 days, it goes to collections, who I hear is merciless. Absolutely merciless.

    My financial aid cousnelor said we discussed how it all works if I ever had to disenroll and what would happen if I did when we first spoke after my initial enrollment in January. That's nice, but these things need to be covered in writing in their handbook and it's not. There's no written policy outlining withdrawal from the university and the fact you'll eb stuck holding the bag and paying something to them. THIS IS WRONG!

    Through some online searches last night, I found numerous complaints against UoP:

    I've read numerous things online about how they engage in unethical business practices and it sickens me to no end. I now realize I made a horrible decision by enrolling in UoP.