Fraudulent school takes millions from students

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(WSHM)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A for-profit school with a former location in Springfield admits it lied to its students, fabricated records, and employed unqualified teachers.

The Attorney General says American Career Institute admitted today that thousands of students are now left with millions of dollars in debt and no way to re-pay their loans.

Western Mass News spoke to a former student.

American Career Institute had five locations across the state.

One of them on Cadwell Drive in Springfield before it abruptly closed its doors in 2013.

“It was a perfectly normal day. Nobody knew anything, not even the people that worked there,” said former ACI student, Angella Vasquez.

Angella Vasquez was trying to raise a family and preparing to pay for her wedding, all while taking Medical Assisting classes at ACI when suddenly the school closed its doors in 2013.

“I did loans, yeah. I’m not sure how that’s going to be paid off now. I have two loans out there now. I hope somebody contacts us. You know, I hope they clear it up.”

With tuition and fees, a student could be pay anywhere up to $23,000 to attend.

“Cheated, yes, and I wasted my time. I was an A-B student and put all of my effort into it and for what? It was a waste, a joke.”

Profits for the school relied heavily on access to federal grants and loans, but today the school admitted that they deceived students and falsified documents.

In a report obtained by Western Mass News, to maintain accreditation and collect payments, the school:
•Falsified records in order to meet student grade and attendance requirements.
•Told some prospective students that employment was guaranteed.
•Signed students’ signatures on various records without permission.
•Unlawfully enrolled and collected tuition from students who did not meet minimum education requirements and did not qualify for federal student loans.

The report said the Attorney General’s office will now request that the department cancel all federal loans taken out by students who attended ACI from January of 2010 through when the school closed in 2013.

It’s estimated more than 4,000 former ACI students may be eligible for loan relief.

“Do your research. Absolutely look at ratings and maybe find out some background about administrators and who the teachers are. They owe everyone an apology.”

Former ACI students are being urged to call the state’s Student Loan Assistance Unit hotline at (888) 830-6277 or fill out the ACI Student Contact Information Update form on Healey’s website for assistance and additional information.

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