Keiser University has come to an agreement with Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi in regards to claims of fraud at its Fort-Lauderdale campus. Former students claim the school misled them into enrolling for useless programs by giving them inaccurate information about their credit transferability, program costs, accreditation status, and the terms on financial loans. The agreement will see Keiser retraining its former students for free. In addition, the school will have to change its tactics for enrollment.
When school’s reach settlements they don’t have to admit to any wrongdoing and are not found guilty of anything. Instead, schools must conform to the agreed upon conditions of the settlement. In this case, Keiser University will have to retrain any students who dropped out due to dissatisfaction since 2008, will change their advertising and enrollment practices, and will comply henceforth with consumer protection regulations. This agreement was also reached with Keiser Career College (now Southeastern University) and Everglades University for similar infractions as a result of investigations at the schools.
Keiser University has been accused of attempting to evade applicable taxes and regulations required by for-profits by merging with non-profit Everglades University. Southeastern College remains a for-profit college which offers vocational training intended to get students out into the workforce faster than attending a bachelor’s degree. These three schools had a total of 18,600 students between their online and campus locations state-wide.
The settlement indicates that Keiser must begin advertising its accreditation type and must cease indicating that it is fully accredited. The school must also stop telling prospective students that it has limited spots in its program when, in fact, it doesn’t as this is a high-pressure sales tactic intended to make students feel like they need to sign up without taking time to think things through. Such predatory enrollment practices, including the one in which Keiser told students that federal student aid does not require that you pay it back.
The US government has begun cracking down on for-profit educators and has passed laws which are intended to protect unwary students from scams and misrepresentation but some schools have managed to find ways to circumvent the government’s requirements. For-profits have oft been accused of misrepresentation of facts regarding their job placement figures, potential salaries for new graduates, and for misrepresenting the usefulness of their programs. These schools tend to be very high cost in comparison to non-profit institutions and have been targeting low-income students in the attempt to get their hands on federal aid programs.
Many students at Keiser were forced to drop out of programs as they lacked the educational background required for university. In addition, the school’s comments about scheduling flexibility were quickly found to be less-than-truth and students were unable to attend classes as they conflicted with work or family schedules. For-profits gain the government’s attention due to high dropout rates, low graduation rates, and high default rates on federal student loans. Although student loans are ultimately handed out by the government, their defaulting means that the taxpayers are ultimately footing the bill for these school’s shady practices.
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