N4T investigators: where will the money go? Online university ordered to pay $22 million for misleading students | News
TUCSON (KVOA) — New details about an online school the University of Arizona acquired in 2020 have come to light.
In March, a California judge ordered Ashford University and its parent company to pay $22 million in penalties for deceptive students.
News 4 Tucson investigators are looking at where the money is going.
While the court issued sanctions against Ashford University, it did not award restitution. This money will therefore not help people pay off their student debt.
“It’s very frustrating, you feel totally abandoned,” said Tucsonan Stacey Sanders Gibson.
Gibson has student loan debt of $90,000. She said Ashford University cared more about enrollment numbers than truthful advice.
“We have this and that, and you don’t have to do anything except sign,” Gibson said.
His online master’s degree cost $40,000 in 2012. However, the interest continues to accrue.
“I believe they scammed a lot of people,” she said.
After Gibson’s story aired, more than a dozen Ashford students contacted News 4 Tucson investigators to share similar stories of false promises.
“I graduated in 2014 with over $100,000 in debt from the online masters program,” Erica P. wrote. “To this day, I have no career from the degree I got it and all I have to show is $700 a month in student loan payments.”
“The entire financial system was horrible. I am currently in school debt with no job assistance,” Latonya F wrote. “I am currently working $8 minimum wage with a Ph.D.”
In March, a judge imposed fines of $22 million on Ashford University and its then-parent company, Zovio. It did not provide restitution to former students.
So where will the millions go?
In an email, California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s press office told News 4 Tucson investigators in part, “The court has imposed penalties, which will be apportioned between the state and San County. Diego, in accordance with state law, and used for consumer protection enforcement.The court’s findings provide a solid basis for the Department of Education to award Ashford students student loan relief. federal authorities, and we hope that Secretary Miguel Cardona will act quickly to provide this relief.
“I wish they would reach out to the students they’ve overburdened and haven’t helped because I’m pretty sure they’re struggling,” Gibson said. “And help them with these student loans, pay half of them or have them cut, do something.”
Even though Ashford was renamed the University of Arizona Global Campus in 2020, the transition has not been smooth.
Last month, more than 3,000 student veterans were told they could no longer use GI Bill benefits to pay for tuition and housing after UAGC moved its headquarters from California to Arizona.
But last week, school officials patched what they called a “bureaucratic snafu” that halted their ability to accept federal funds.
UAGC says it expects no disruption to student benefits, tuition or costs.
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