ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Minnesota’s attorney general has reached a settlement with a Milwaukee for-profit college that requires the institution to notify prospective students about the accreditation of certain programs and offer refunds to students who may not have had full information about what they needed for career certification.
Attorney General Lori Swanson’s office announced the settlement Wednesday with Herzing University, which has offered an accredited medical assistant diploma program at its campus in the Minneapolis suburb of Crystal.
The news comes just a week after WCCO took an in-depth look at the practices of some for-profits in Minnesota.
Swanson said the investigation into Herzing has gone on for months. She says 21 students signed up for a program that didn’t deliver what they were told it would. Now, those students will receive a refund or get a $7,500 credit toward a different degree at Herzing.
“I just wanted to get through the school and start working as quickly as possible,” student Grace Vavra said.
It was with that goal in mind, Vavra of Osseo enrolled at Herzing University’s campus in Crystal. She believed the school’s medical assistant associate’s degree offered the best opportunities upon graduation.
“They told me, yes, I would get a degree and be able to get a job afterward,” Vavra said.
However, after taking out student loans and paying hundreds of dollars, seven months in, the school told Vavra that program was over.
“It came on really suddenly,” Vavra said.
It turns out that for the more than two years Herzing offered its medical assistant program, the college didn’t have the proper accreditation for students to even be able to take the test to get the certification they were promised.
“It’s a huge roadblock if it’s not properly accredited employers aren’t going to hire you,” Swanson said.
Since none of her Herzing credits would transfer, Vavra has started over at a different college.
“Currently I’m taking some of the classes over,” she said. “I felt it was a waste of my time and money definitely,” she said.
John Slama is the Minneapolis campus president at Herzing University and provided this statement to WCCO:
“When we became aware of a misunderstanding with certain students regarding the specialized accreditation status of our medical assisting program, we immediately addressed these concerns and proactively outlined several options to accommodate each student’s individualized needs and preferences. The best option enabled students to complete both their associate degree and our accredited diploma, sit for the CMA exam, and graduate on time at no additional cost. Several students are continuing with Herzing on this path.
Subsequently, in collaboration with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, we have now outlined additional options for students. As always, Herzing is committed to working with all our students to achieve their career goals.”
As part of this settlement, Herzing will now have to additional options to students like a full refund or that money credit toward future credits at Herzing.
In the future, Herzing also needs to be more up front about all of this when students enroll.
Swanson’s office is still investigating several more for-profits, but she calls this settlement a step in the right direction.
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