'They just saw me as a dollar sign': How some certificate schools profit from vulnerable students

An investigation into Premier Education Group shows how for-profit schools with questionable track records are able to fly under the enforcement radar.

7/12/2019

Jessica Evers dreamed of having a career and a better life for her and her child. When she saw an advertisement for Salter College, a for-profit certificate school promising high-paid jobs after graduation, it looked perfect. (1/6)

An investigation into Premier Education Group shows how for-profit schools with questionable track records are able to fly under the enforcement radar.

Despite their dismal outcomes, for-profits like Premier have taken advantage of a spotty system of oversight to largely fly under the enforcement radar. Although state agencies can investigate the programs, the decision to do so depends on the priorities of officials. Nonprofit accrediting agencies monitor the quality and outcomes of these campuses, but critics say they often fail to respond in a meaningful way when problems are uncovered, giving schools significant time to keep operating.

“We continue to work with our students, the community and our accreditors to improve outcomes,” Premier Vice President Wade Charlton wrote in an email.

The price tag of $15,000 seemed worth it given the school’s assurances that she would find work; she decided to enroll that day.

Two years later, a new investigation in the state alleged similar practices. Premier denied wrongdoing but settled with the Division of Professional Licensure for $150,000. The company said it made settlements in both cases to “avoid the uncertainty and costs associated with future litigation.”

Mariah Hayes, who attended Branford Hall’s Albany, New York, campus in 2016, said she was told by staff in the advisement center that medical assistants started at $14 or more an hour, or about $28,000 annually. Most of Branford’s 2011 and 2012 graduates of the medical assistant program made less than $21,000 in 2015, according to federal data.

Evers soon fell into a manageable routine, studying while her daughter napped during the day and heading to school at night. But problems began to crop up. For instance, rather than answering her questions, one of her teachers told her to just read the textbook, she said.

And then there were incidents that went beyond chaotic operations. Shannon Huey, who graduated last year from the medical assistant program at another Premier chain campus, Harris School of Business, in Dover, Delaware, said that she witnessed administrators changing grades and forging attendance records for students who were behind or failing. Charlton said Premier could not substantiate the claim but “a very limited number of individuals at any campus have the ability to enter grades or attendance.”

Premier agreed to a $3.4 million settlement in July. The company admitted no wrongdoing and, as with its previous two agreements, said it settled to avoid the uncertainty and costs of continued litigation.

Read more: NBC News

Guess what, a diploma or a certificate doesn't guarantee a job. This is true for ANY school. She needs to grow up. Even with that one loan $340/mo half of that still gets taken in interest so only $150 goes to take the $22,000 down and the rest just disappears in interest She should have attended her nearest community college instead.

Ok, folks. Let's all forward this story to BetsyDeVosED Education should not be a for profit entity. The institutions allegiance is to the shareholders not the students. This has contributed to the student loan crisis in the US. Hands on experience is the only 'qualification' that can pay one large sums of money.(depending on the industry). Unfortunately, it takes time to accumulate experience, and most people don't have the patience or time to wait.

Most colleges are no different

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