So everyone convinced this college is legit? Read this updated article by Moe Bedard:
Westwood College Used Deceptive Marketing to Lure Students into Thousands in Debt, Limited Job Opportunities
(Source Il AG) Chicago Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed a lawsuit against the national,
for-profit college Westwood for engaging in deceptive practices that left Chicago area students with up to $70,000 each in debt for degrees that failed to qualify them for careers in criminal justice.
Madigans lawsuit alleges that, through marketing its criminal justice program, Westwood falsely convinced students they could pursue a law enforcement career with agencies such as the Chicago Police Department, Illinois State Police and suburban police departments, even though those employers dont recognize a Westwood degree due to its lack of regional accreditation.
Many students learned only after graduationand after racking up thousands in student loan debtthat their degrees would not land them the law enforcement jobs they originally sought. Additionally, because Westwood isnt recognized by regionally accredited colleges, students found they couldnt transfer their coursework to alternative programs to complete a degree. Lacking a regionally accredited degree and unable to transfer their coursework, Westwood students were left saddled with anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 in student loan debt.
Westwood officials lied to potential students about almost every aspect of its criminal justice program,
from its exorbitant costs to a graduates slim career prospects, Madigan said. Now, many of these students are left with thousands in debt in exchange for a college degree that has very little value in the real world.
The Attorney General filed the lawsuit earlier today in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging numerous
violations of the states Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Westwood College has campuses in Chicagos Loop, Woodridge and Calumet City, in addition to campuses in five other states.
Madigan additionally alleges the college engaged in deceptive advertising. Westwood regularly promoted its criminal justice program in television and radio ads that depicted its graduates posing as police officers, in spite of its accreditation status that prevented students from obtaining such jobs. Westwood also deceptively advertised online by purchasing search terms such as Regionally Accredited Colleges and Become a Police Officer in Chicago and State Trooper College. When users searched for those terms, links to Westwood College would appear at the top of their search engine results, giving the false impression that a Westwood degree was regionally accredited and recognized by agencies including
the Chicago Police Department and Illinois State Police.
The lawsuit also alleges that Westwood downplayed the ultimate total cost of attending the college and failed to provide students with sufficient information about their loans. Westwood is typically more expensive than most community colleges or state universities, with 2012 tuition rates for a Bachelors of Applied Science totaling more than $71,000. Madigan said that when government and private loans did not cover a students cost, Westwood financed the students balance at exceedingly high interest rates as much as 18 percent and financial aid officers misrepresented the terms of the financing.
Over 100 students from Cook, DuPage, Kane and Ogle counties have complained to the Attorney Generals office and the Chicago Better Business Bureau.
Madigans lawsuit seeks to rescind contracts between current and former students and Westwood that are found to be unlawful and provide restitution to those students. The lawsuit seeks to shut down the defendants Criminal Justice Program. The suit also seeks to impose on Westwood civil penalties based on violations of Illinois law.
Todays lawsuit is Attorney General Madigans latest effort to crack down on fraudulent and deceptive
practices in the for-profit college industry. In 2011, Madigan filed a complaint in a whistleblower suit against Education Management Corporation and the Illinois Institutes of Art in Chicago and Schaumburg for allegedly incentivizing admissions recruiters based on enrollment numbers and thereby defrauding the state of education grant dollars. Earlier, in 2007, Madigan reached a settlement with Illinois-based DeVry University and Career Education Corporation concerning student loan practices involving the schools and lenders. The settlements required the schools to adopt a College Code of Conduct and to return the money paid by lenders to schools.
Current and former students of Westwood College seeking more information should contact Madigans Consumer Fraud Hotline, (800) 386-5438.
Assistant Attorneys General
Akeela White, Colleen Bisher, Michele Casey, Greg Grzeskiewicz and Kevin
Hudspeth are handling this case for Madigans Consumer Fraud Bureau.