I'll begin with an e-mail I sent to many of AIU's staff. This e-mail was the mid-point of a 6 month battle with the above mentioned institution. It explains most of what happened.
In order to fully understand my situation, you must know what took place prior to my decision to withdrawal, so I'll start at the beginning. I'm a member of the NJ Army National Guard and was forced to leave my family, friends and my freedom behind on June 4, 2004 to train for combat in Iraq. I ended up leaving the U.S. on November 23, 2004. Upon arrival in Iraq , we had a lot of work to do and I didn't have much free time. A few months later, however, my work load decreased significantly. Less enemy activity meant that I had less combat patrols to conduct, which went from three per week to just one per week. I work primarily in communications, so I built a network and was able to reach the world wide web towards the end of February.
With the days dragging by, I decided to check out AIU and see if I could do something positive with my free time. I spoke with Stetson Martin who I thought was very helpful, but has since proved to be very misleading. He told me how I could earn my associates degree by taking classes from June to September. We spoke about my Army benefits (mainly Tuition Assistance) and he assured me I would assume none or very little out of pocket expenses. He told me how he got me a 5% grant and that my Tuition Assistance which caps out at $4,500 would cover most or all of my tuition. My financial aid advisor, J. Benford, verified that what Mr. Martin told me was true, making my decision to enroll into AIU that much easier. During the enrollment process, my financial aid advisor changed to Brian Flemming and the confusion resulted into me being wrongly packaged. I requested time and time again to not have any loans applied to my account and told both financial aid advisors what needed to be done for the Tuition Assistance to go through. I also told them that I was not eligible to receive VA benefits, and again, I was assured that everything would be OK and I would assume very little out of pocket expenses. I felt very pleased with the institution at this point and was ready to begin classes.
I started Fundamental of Marketing, MKT255, and was having a great time learning. I participated in the class as much as possible and ended up with a final grade of 95%. About half way through the course, I received an e-mail (June 9, 2005) stating that the Federal Stafford Loan had been applied to my account. I was told by the Army that they already sent the payment for my first course and was wondering why this loan was being given to me, especially after requesting many times to receive no loans. Upon receiving the e-mail, I immediately replied and requested that the loan be canceled. I sent similar e-mails to everybody I could think of including Stetson Martin, Kristy McArthur and many different people from the student accounts department. I figured somebody would clear up this issue for me and just verified with my Army Education Officer that the payment was actually sent. He told me that the payment was indeed sent out. I thought that I would see the Army's payment applied to my account as soon as the loan was cancelled, so I got back to classes.
After MKT255 ended, I had a week off of classes, but could not rest because I was sent out on three separate patrols that week. When I came back, I checked my e-mail and on July 15, 2005, John Snyder sent me an e-mail welcoming me to my next course, MGT240. The e-mail encouraged me to log on and read through the syllabus and the course assignments, so I did just that. During that log in, I also checked my account and realized that the loan was still there. At that point I had questions about the VA Payment as well, so I tried to get clarification about that. Nobody I talked to could give me a straight answer as to what the charge was for. With more and more charges popping up and more and more money being paid for by a loan, which I requested be cancelled prior to even enrolling, I was fed up and decided to withdrawal from classes. I notified my admissions advisor, Stetson Martin, my academic advisor, Ann Cassata and was later contacted by Samatha Oliver. She tried to change my mind about withdrawing, but I decided that all of these expenses were not worth an associates degree. A few days later, she sent me an e-mail advising me to contact financial aid (which I've been doing on a regular basis) and student accounts to review my financial obligations. After calling last night (yesterday afternoon for you) on July 26, I was told that I owe over $4,000 because I logged in on the 17th of July and incurred charges for my second course or the entire quarter (I think that's what it was called). I believe that these charges are not justified. When I logged in on the 17th, I did not know I was going to be withdrawing from classes until after I checked my account and noticed that the loan was still on there. As you know, one cannot check his or her account without logging in and since telephones are not always an option in Iraq, I had no other choice.
I would like to ask you to consider dropping the incurred charges for the second course which were charged to my account because of me logging into the virtual campus on 17 July, 2005. That was the first time I logged into the virtual campus after completing my first course, MKT255, and have not logged in afterward. I logged into the virtual campus mainly because the instructor for my upcoming class told me to, but after checking my account, I decided that I did not want anymore unwanted loans and that withdrawing would be in my best interest. I understand the contract I signed and the terms I agreed to, but why should I pay for a service that I'm no longer receiving and haven't received since my first course, MKT255, ended? Furthermore, how can AIU justify charging me additional money after its employees lied to me, misled me, wrongly packaged my financial aid, told me that the mistake had been fixed when it actually was not, and failed to complete necessary paperwork for my Tuition Assistance from the Army?
After several weeks of arguing and fighting with AIU, I was finally able to have them drop most of the charges. I still had to pay $1,500 out of my pocket when I was told over and over again that the Tuition Assistance from the Army would cover the entire cost of the courses, but it did not. I have many e-mails to and from AIU saved as well as payment receipts and collections notices.
Gibbstown, New Jersey
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