The Illinois attorney general filed a lawsuit Wednesday against national for-profit Westwood College.  The suit claims that Westwood engaged in deceptive practices that left students with up to $70,000 each in debt for degrees that failed to qualify them for careers in criminal justice.


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 “Westwood officials lied to potential students about almost every aspect of its criminal justice program, from its exorbitant costs to a graduate’s slim career prospects,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan said. “Now many of these students are left with thousands in debt in exchange for a college degree that has very little value in the real world.”  Jessica Pierce of Chicago said she didn’t learn that the college was not regionally accredited until two semesters into the program. Regional accreditation is necessary to get a job with most police departments. Pierce says she’s now $54,000 in debt with a degree she calls a “paperweight.”  


Todd Brown of Bolingbrook says after graduating from Westwood he tried to get a job with the Illinois State Police. It wasn’t until he made it through the written and physical tests that he was told his degree didn’t qualify him for the state police.  There have been congressional hearings on the matter as well. At issue is whether federal student loans should be issued for use at for-profit colleges – essentially, is it a good use of federal resources?  Madigan says the suit seeks to shut down Westwood’s criminal justice program and refund students’ tuition.  In a statement Westwood says it has “hundreds of successful graduates working in the public and private criminal justice field,” and they will continue to work with that Attorney General’s office.


(Illinois Radio Network)