Fraud and scam are the words coming out of former National American University students’ mouths. Online complaint boards are amass with claims that the school would add mysterious fees to student accounts, not tell them about it to let interest gather, then garnish their income tax returns for the “full amount.” Students would then receive another bill in the mail claiming they owed thousands of dollars caused by interest due to payment shortages. How this was possible when the previous garnishment supposedly paid the bill off remains to be explained.
Students claim the school fraudulently held onto their living allowance disbursements for months in order to accrue interest on their money. Many students who had not received their disbursement contact financial advisers at the school to be told they had not received the government funding yet. Those checking in with the government to see what the hold up was were told by government officials the money had been sent to National months prior. This meant students were left in a lurch struggling to pay rent, food, and expenses while National raked in the interest on their moneys.
Not only did National play games like this with federal student aid, they did so with Veterans Affairs as well. Some VA students claimed their funder was charged overages they ended up responsible to pay for, that schools reported costs over and above the covered amounts and that student’s school accounts were charged the difference. They were then not told about the charges until the interest on them had become a serious issue.
All of this fraudulent funding money has significantly increased the company’s revenues and the school claimed $10 million in profit. Considering there are 2,000 such schools in the US, this adds up to over $24 billion in federal funding for all for-profits. Tuition at for-profits can be double or triple the amount of a non-profit school running a similar program. These schools also managed to continue to receive funding for students in default. While the school may have started out in 1941 with a clean reputation that has certainly changed in recent years. With over 9,000 students signed up for online classes, this adds up to $82 million in revenue, 80% of which is received from financial coffers.
Students claim they were preyed upon by National’s predatory recruitment practices and have stated that they were called and emailed multiple times per day. Recruiters were instructed in the handbook to continue to call until they got a response. Once they had a prospective student actually on the phone, they were to then hype up the urgency of accepting enrollment immediately using claims of limited availability. Recruiters were also told to combat students with psychological tactics should they have objections and base them on things associated with pride and guilt.
These offials were instructed to give students as little information as possible and reveal only the per class cost of taking a program to downplay the overpriced education. This could have led recruiters to mislead students on the value of their education, the usefulness of the programs, provide misleading program information, and make questionable statements in regards to funding sources and obligations. Students signing up for programs they were interested in found out they had been entered into other programs as the one they were lured with wasn’t even offered at the school. At times, students were lured by officials telling them the program they wanted was offered at the school and they would show up for classes only to find out that this was not what they were signed up for and that the school didn’t even offer the program to begin with.
If you have questions or comments, please chat in the comments below or on the ChallengeStudentDebt Twitter handle.
If you feel you were defrauded by the school you attended or you are being treated poorly as a distressed borrower by your creditors, take the free challenge debt review to find out what options you have regarding your student loans.