Financial Advice

My School Misled Me, is Closing, and Leaving Me in Debt

Question:

Dear Steve,

I started going to International Academy of Design and Technology in 2008 and was really excited to go for my Bachelors degree. I wanted a better life for my son and me. I asked all the usual questions; what’s the program like, how are the courses taught, is it like going to a traditional college?

They assured me they were a legit school and they had a high graduation rate, they were accredited and it would be just like a regular school, except it was online. I was working full time and raising a little boy, I needed something I could do after work.

After I started the school, I felt like the teachers just gave out A’s, like we were paying for A’s. I intentionally submitted some really bad work, and I still got an A. I called up the student support line and asked about their accreditation, their grading system, their teachers, etc. They assured me they were a legit school and they had accreditation and they had to be a real school in order for them to be able to have their students use FASFA.

After I graduated, I got a job working with other graphic designers, all of whom went to actual colleges. They all had a bad opinion of me because they had heard about online schools. I asked them about their classes; classes in human drawing, developing their artist styles, typography and creating it, learning from the masters, etc. I didn’t have classes like that at all. In fact, I had very basic classes, that I wanted to test out of because I had the skills but I had to pay $300 to do that and I didn’t have that kind of money.

I did use FASFA to go to that college. They maxed me out year after year and I didn’t know until my Junior year when I caught on and took out the minimum. Then m senior year, they told me I wasn’t going to be able to borrow enough to cover all the costs because they had over-borrowed by first 2 years. I have $60K in student loans, I don’t have a job now. My degree is a useless piece of paper. I can’t afford payments and take care of my son so I’m on an income repayment plan.

And to make matters worse, IADT is CLOSING due to low profits and low enrollment. They were sold to Sanford-Brown Colleges and now they are closing next year (2016). I will not have alumni support or any resources from that school. I also learned they were NOT nationally accredited like they said they were. They were self-accredited. This was a scam school. I want to be able to go to a real school and get a real degree. One that’s worth something. I’ve contacted lawyers and no one will help me. I don’t know what to do.

PLEASE HELP ME!

Stephanie

Answer:

Dear Stephanie,

I’m sorry to hear you are in this situation. But all is not lost.

According to public data, it looks like International Academy of Design and Technology may have lied and misled you to encourage you to enroll. Government data doesn’t show fantastic graduation rates. In fact only 26% of students graduated within six years. Those that did only had a median salary of $27,800, six years after graduation. And of those that did attend, about 61% have defaulted on their federal loans. – Source

Recently I wrote Millions of Federal Student Loans Lining Up to Be Eliminated and Borrowers Repaid and that article seems to directly apply to your situation.

While this is going to be a new defense for federal student loan borrowers and it might take a little bit to work out the kinks, you seem to have a good story to support the fact you were sold a bill of goods by the school about what their success rate and education performance was really like.

If the school was not Title IV eligible for federal funding then your student loans would be able to be discharged in bankruptcy without much fuss. Those loans would not be protected in bankruptcy. But because they assisted you with federal loans they must have been approved at some point. I’m not exactly sure which campus you attended but according to the latest 2015-2016 list of schools who were Title IV student loan eligible, many of the campuses are on the list. – Source

If you recently left the school you may be eligible for closed school loan forgiveness. You can click here for details on how that works.

“Steve

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This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.

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