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A settlement has been reached with Sullivan & Cogliano, a Brockton for-profit school, after a lawsuit was launch which alleged that the school was misleading its students and using false information to entice potential students. Claims that S&G’s advertising, website, and handouts contained false information regarding its student training methods, programs, certification fees, job placement success, and other misleading practices were indicated Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Investigators looking into the matter discovered that statements contained in advertising or other promotional materials didn’t hold up under close scrutiny. As this school is a for-profit provider, course costs are significantly higher than community colleges and are heavily funded by Pell Grants and federal student aid programs. Students who were completed S&G’s programs often found the school couldn’t deliver on its promises and all they were left with was a huge debt pile they couldn’t pay, loans in default, few job prospects, and bad credit which would follow them around for years to come.
Job placement claims made by S&C were seriously inflated. The school advertised successful job placement for 70-100 percent of its graduates, all of which were working in their chosen field of study. The reality was more like the equivalent of a balloon left over from a party three weeks ago as fewer than 25% of graduates were actually working within their field in any way. S&C’s profits were inflated to bloated proportions and had quintupled since it had gained access to federal loan programs though. The remaining percentage of employed students was actually working in fast food or retail establishments for minimum wage. Unless S&G had a program about how to work for minimum wage and choke on your debt that no one knew about, student success was a definite falsehood.
Program information indicated that students would receive significant clinical training and become certified within a few weeks and this, too, was far from the truth. Not one student received a job from their clinical training, medical equipment featured in the company’s literature was not even instructed on, and only a few individuals managed to work even in a medical office environment.
Exaggerated program durations, job placement, extent of internships, costs and fees associated with testing for certification, and methods of teaching were also grossly misrepresented. The lawsuit in question demanded that S&G pay back its students and correct their misleading information in addition to paying legal costs and penalties.
In the end, the school knew its ship had sailed and S&C agreed to the settlement outlined by the court. This settlement stated that S&C must pay $425,000 in loan relief for harmed students; remove its Medical Office Assistant and Office Professional-Medical Concentration programs in Massachusetts; produce factually correct advertisements regarding job placement, fees, and disclose that students are entering a primarily self-taught program. Internships and clinical experience were also indicated in the settlement as were statements regarding the time it takes to complete the program. The school agreed to the settlement and said it would comply with the judge’s requests voluntarily.
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