Online Arizona College Accused of Faking Data

     PHOENIX (CN) – An Internet college lied about admissions to keep its federal aid flowing, and fired an admissions adviser when he complained, the man claims in court.
     Todd Wanta sued Northcentral University on Wednesday in Maricopa County Court. Northcentral, a profit-seeking online school, is based in Arizona’s Prescott Valley.
     Wanta claims in the lawsuit that the Department of Education placed the school on probation for three years due to compliance failures. The university must be certified by the Department of Education for students to qualify for tuition aid.
     Wants claims that Northcentral entices students to apply “through an aggressive recruitment program stressing that enrollees can apply for financial aid through Title IV programs,” which the vast majority of its 9,800 students receive.
     “As the result of Northcentral’s precarious existential status with DOE, its owners, shareholders and management have embarked on a system of practices calculated to provide false data to DOE in required reporting documents,” the complaint states.
     The school must report to the DOE the amount of time students spend completing their course of study. If a student does not complete a course within a certain time frame, he or she becomes ineligible for further financial aid.
     Wanta says he was fired after he refused the vice president of admissions’ orders to continue to alter admission dates. He claims he previously altered admission dates of hundreds of students for Northcentral – dates that were reported to the Department of Education. “Fearing his own criminal culpability,” he told his bosses in 2013 that he no longer alter admissions dates, Wanta says.
     “Wanta was required to show students that had been enrolled for as long as 10 years to be enrolled for a shorter period in order that such student would be in compliance with DOE criteria for their program,” he says in the lawsuit.
     After he blew the whistle, Northcentral led a “witch-hunt” against him, giving him unfavorable reviews until he was fired, Wanta claims.
     “Northcentral could not exist without federal assistance to its students. Receipt of federal financial assistance by students is the key element central to Northcentral’s business plan,” according to the complaint.
     Northcentral did not respond to a request for comment.
     Wanta seeks lost wages and punitive damages for wrongful firing.
     He is represented by Kyle Kinney of Scottsdale.

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