Complaint Review: American Trades Institute
American Trades Institute Took Advantage, Cheated, Unprofessional, Mislead, Humiliating Dallas Texas **Author of this Report is NOT CONFIRMED**
I was barely 21 when I signed up to get an education from American Trades Institute (A.T.I) in Dallas, Texas in 1987. I was on my own and extremely unprepared to understand how to research my educational options or understand how student loans worked. I did not have familial support or friends with any clout to help me navigate this decision to better myself or stay away from what I soon discovered was just a diploma mill.
I took a nine month course called Computerized Business Administration, which I thought would greatly help me get better employment. I was living and working on my own and made about six dollars an hour. I barely made ends meet.
Within a few weeks I realized I had made a big mistake. The teachers seemed to treat their job like it was just another part-time job to fill their pocket books. I can remember being laughed at for asking questions, and when I asked why this particular teacher was just joking around and not answering my question, he starting screaming. This was, in fact, 30 years ago, so I have vague memory of exactly what it was that started the yelling. All I know is that I felt like the school was not training me at all. No new computerized training at all. It was on software I already was using!
I remember going to their office and asking to be dismissed from the course, but was told I could not get my money back, which at that time was $5,000. So, I decided to stick out the entire 9 months and "graduated" from the course.
Needless to say, I didn't have any new, competitive skills to keep or get a job that paid more than 8 dollars an hour. Within a few years, I found myself out of work, caring for a family member, and then suffered homelessness. I quit paying on the loan, and was completely naiive to the fact that I could never run away from it.
A few years later, while struggling to get on my feet, my neighbor at the apt. complex where I lived and worked at, told me a collection agency called her phone number and was looking for me. I contacted them back, and began to start paying on my defaulted loan. By this time (1998) I now had a student loan of $10,000!!! It more than doubled. I started making new payments when I could and when I couldn't, I made sure I contacted the loan holder to make payment arrangements.
Flash forward several years later, I put my loan in deferrment because I went back to school, to a legitimate community college in my home state of Minnesota. I graduated with a 3.7 average and went on to finish my four year.
I do have debt from the legitimate not-for-profit colleges, about the same as what I still owe (aprox. 8 grand) from American Trades Institute. I have been paying on all my loans without missing a payment for the last three years. I have no problem wanting to pay back my loans from the two and four year colleges I attended recently. However, it makes me sick that I have to pay back more than twice what the original loan was just because I was not street smart enough to know a rip-off when I see one. I was just 21 with no way to fight back. I had no one to guide or help me at that time. With all the payments over the years to that original loan, I know I have paid more than what the original loan was for.
I don't believe I should have to pay on a 30 year old loan anymore. The school is a fraud and more and more private for profit schools are being exposed for ripping off students and tax payers. I want a fresh start - I have more than paid my dues on the fiasco. I want help to get rid of this nightmare.
Thanks for reading.
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