Today is the first day of class at Westwood College and students are not only anxious about a new semester, but whether the school will be around much longer. After Westwood College and its parent company (Alta Colleges) have both agreed to pay millions of dollars in different settlements over claims of deceptive business practices and other violations, the for-profit college announced last November they are no longer accepting new enrollments. Westwood has not yet made a decision on whether to go out of business.
Westwood College is in trouble, but on the first day of a new semester on Wednesday students and faculty are demanding that Westwood make a promise: If Westwood closes, all students that attended Westwood College deserve a responsible closure that includes a FULL refund on their student loans that are controlled by the school. At actions in Atlanta and Chicago, students signed petitions and handed out fliers about how across the country, for-profit colleges and universities are prioritizing their revenue stream over their students’ future.
Alex Domanovic graduated from Westwood College in Chicago. He said, “I am a Westwood College graduate who wants to know what will happen if the school closes. Will my diploma still be recognized by employers? I spent time and energy at Westwood College, and securing employment in my field has been difficult as is. Will the college follow through with its promises, or will students be left in the cold with debt and defunct degrees?”
Westwood is one of the most expensive for-profit colleges, but like the vast majority of for-profit colleges it spends more resources on profits and marketing than instruction. Due to the high price of tuition, some students must rely on alte
rnative financing in addition to Federal financial aid. The Colorado Attorney General's office entered into a settlement with Westwood College in which Westwood agreed to pay $2.5 million to former students with loans from APEX, Westwood College's in-house student loan program, for violations of consumer lending laws.
When companies take advantage of students and prioritize profit over student success, students pay the price. Standing with our partners in the student debt movement, the Faculty Forward Network are holding bad actors in higher ed accountable, and championing a half billion dollars in debt relief for former students of the now defunct Corinthian Colleges.