Illinois Attorney General to Sue Westwood College
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UPDATED: Jan 19, 2012
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The Illinois attorney general, Lisa Madigan, has filed suit against Westwood College. The for-profit higher education institution, which has four Chicago-area campuses, has drawn the attorney general’s ire as a result of misleading students and offering “false promises.”
With tuition for a criminal justice degree at Westwood costing $71,610 compared to $12,672 at the College of DuPage, Westwood students took out student loans costing five times as much as they would have at local community colleges. Students claim they were pursued very aggressively by Westwood recruiters, often getting multiple calls a day until the student agreed to come in for a tour. Additionally, there are claims that the schools misrepresented its accreditation, job-placement rates, and job opportunities.
“Many Illinois students who tried to better themselves through a criminal justice education at Westwood now find themselves saddled with more than $50,000 in student loans, and no way to pursue a law enforcement job because their Westwood education was not regionally accredited and therefore was not recognized by other regionally accredited colleges or lawn enforcement employers, such as the Chicago Police Department, the Illinois State Police and many suburban police departments,” said the attorney general’s office in a summary of the suit, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Fifteen students have come together to file this complaint with the attorney general. Several of these students made an appearance at a public hearing with the attorney general where they described their—each claiming to have upwards of $60,000 in student loans remaining, and a degree from an unaccredited institution that is not being accepted as valid with any employers.
“We continue to cooperate with the Illinois [attorney general] to resolve any outstanding issues,” Westwood responded in a statement. “We are proud of our legacy of helping students obtain their educational goals. We have hundreds of graduates working in the private and public criminal justice field throughout the state of Illinois.”
The lawsuit is seeking a complete reimbursement from Westwood to Illinois students who participated in their criminal justice program. The attorney general is also seeking to revoke, forfeit or suspend the criminal justice program and assess a civic penalty of $50,000 per violation of the state’s Consumer Fraud Act, reports the Chicago Tribune.