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Forgive my balance, University of Phoenix

Posted Fri September 2, 2011 12:00 pm, by Jessica H. written to University of Phoenix Online

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I enrolled in March 2010 in an attempt to obtain a degree and better the position of my family. I was very clear with my admissions counselor about the things I needed in order to be able to enroll at the University. I am the sole provider for a family of 7 (then 6.5) and thus I could not work fewer hours (which would be necessary in order to take on the school work) unless I was supplemented by financial aid. I was assured that there would be no problem at all.

In April I was refunded a small amount from student loans and told I would receive another disbursement in June. My family and I held on as best we could when that first disbursement ran out, holding our breath for the last few weeks ‘til June. But June came with no word on financial aid. Every time I spoke with someone (weekly at least, and often every 3-4 days) I checked the status and reiterated that I had 4 kids to feed, and a sick pregnant wife, I was the only income, and I would have to take more hours at work and work less on my schoolwork if I didn't have the supplementary funds. On the few occasions I could actually speak to my financial aid adviser, Sean Ortega (who did not answer his phone, return a call, or communicate effectively with my academic adviser), he assured me it was 2 or 3 weeks out every time.

Meanwhile the University had received another loan disbursement that went straight to the University for the classes I had taken AND those they anticipated me taking. They held over $3000 of my loans for future classes, not releasing the funds to me. They claimed they couldn't, and had to wait on the government to disburse the Pell grant funds to them, first, and they would refund that to me. They also claimed that the government had not yet sent the Pell grant funds to them, which they had requested in March. I have inquired with the Department of Education as to when that Pell grant was disbursed, but unfortunately I have not yet heard back on that fact, and I did not want to delay this letter any longer. However, I know that 1. I can (and did) apply at my local college on Aug 1st and have the money in hand on the 23rd, and 2. The Department of Ed has this to say regarding Pell grants: “The school must tell you in writing how much your award will be and how and when you'll be paid. Schools must disburse funds at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter). Schools that do not use semesters, trimesters, or quarters must disburse funds at least twice per academic year." Unless they were planning to disburse my funds in both November and December, they fell short of their obligations.

Finally, in September, we simply couldn't wait any longer. The baby was due at the end of the month and I was offered double hours at work and had to take them in order for me to address our rising debt and to take the week off when the baby was born (we have no family or anyone else to help with the 4 other kids and my wife needed at least 1 week). My school work suffered and I did not make the grade necessary to satisfactorily pass the class in order to be financial aid eligible. My academic adviser insisted I must retake the class in late Oct at my expense or they would charge me for the class. We still hadn't received any further Financial Aid funds in over 6 months of me taking classes, and there was just no way it was going to happen. We survived on food stamps and government programs. There was just no way I could pay even a fraction of that amount. I told my academic adviser all of this and tried to explain, but I feel he saw that the well was dry and no longer held my hand on anything. The account was turned over to their internal collections within the week. 2 weeks after I told them that I was forced to withdraw I got the deeply ironic letter saying the Pell grant had come through.

I had just had a baby and was still working ungodly hours, so I couldn’t give the matter much attention last fall. I assumed the matter had been dropped and I simply went on with my life. I then receive a letter from a collection agency in June of this year claiming I owed the University over $1200. I responded with a standard validation letter and after receiving the response from a representative at the University the record appeared on my Equifax credit report. In the responses they assert over and over how I owe the money, but do not address my complaints of mistreatment/misrepresentation at all.

I feel that I was severely mistreated, lied to and strung along in order to drain every last possible dollar out of me. I certainly do not feel that I owe this or any money to the University, particularly after hundreds of identical complaints and information regarding a class action law suit against the University last year for these exact practices. I have now contacted the Better Business Bureau, theconsumerist.com, the AZ state Attorney General's office and the MI state Attorney General's office, as well as my own attorney, regarding this issue.

I insist that my account balance with the University be entirely forgiven and the collection notation removed from my credit report immediately.


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by Paul G. Posted Fri November 9, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

I attend the University of Phoenix, and here is my advice:

That money is for your education, not your personal life. The school
held that money to cover your obligation to pay for the classes. You
can argue that you were tricked, or anything along those lines, but
the fact remains: you aren't getting a free education.

I have gotten several refund checks from the school, but that is not
meant to supplement your personal income, or provide assistance for
your personal choices. It seems to me that you made a decision to take
on a huge responsibility at a very inconvenient time (for you).

I think the school is way too expensive, but that is a trade off for
being able to sit comfortably at home while working towards a degree.

Also, a lot of private and state colleges do not give refunds at all
to the students.

You should not have your balance forgiven for your actions. The school
did exactly what they told you they would do: use your money to cover
your tuition and materials, and after that, they will give you any
excess funds. When you sign up for financial aid, YOU are given the
option to have the money sent to you, or have it sent to the school.
YOU made the decision to have the money sent to the school; therefore,
it is YOUR choices that put you in this matter, NOT the school.


by RedheadwGlasses Posted Thu September 8, 2011 @ 8:25 AM

Having worked for two years in the financial aid biz, I can tell you,
there are LOTS of unscrupulous post-secondary education institutions
and they exist solely to take your government loans and Pell Grant
money. Dog grooming school in Colorado, truck driving schools all
over the place, cosmetology schools in NYC, and a variety of schools
in Puerto Rico aimed at taking advantage of poor Puerto Rican kids.

These online schools claim to be "accredited" but typically, they are
accredited by an organization that's just there to give "credentials"
for such schools -- it's not a legitimate accreditation (sp?)
organization recognized by established colleges and universities. So
your credits won't transfer. And your degree will be meaningless.

I hope you get your money back from them.


Thing is.. by Lilyaqha Sat September 10, 2011 @ 12:21 AM
by Wendy C. Posted Sun September 4, 2011 @ 11:36 PM

While I applaud your attempt to better yourself for your family..

I think it's unreasonable to expect other people to pay for all the
children you have that you can not afford.


I agree! by Jane P, Tue September 6, 2011 @ 12:41 AM
by Lilyaqha Posted Sat September 3, 2011 @ 11:44 PM

I work at one of these for profit schools, and they are very sneaky to
get your money, and to get the most finanancial aid from the
government as they can. 90% of the money they bring in is financial
aid, because the peopel that end up going to these schools aren't the
type who can afford the huge cost.

The students are talked into taking courses by sales people. They are
talked into staying in class by sales people, even though they have
valid reasons to NOT be in class. They are talked into enrolling in
advance, so they end up payhing for courses they end up not taking.
It's not about the student at these places, it's about the financial
aid, school gets money, on to next student.

If UOP told you it's ok to take financial aid to pay for expenses
other than classes, well, that's crappy.


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