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Student Calls CollegeAmerica a Farce

DENVER (CN) - CollegeAmerica, which claims to be "known for its high educational standards," provides students with defective equipment, clueless teachers and helpless administrators, a former student claims in court.

Schimar Mora sued the Center for Excellence in Higher Education dba CollegeAmerica in Denver County Court. She claims the profit-seeking chain college defrauded her of $65,000 for a worthless bachelor's degree. When she asked for an itemized accounting of her tuition expenses, she says, a college official gave her a number on a "sticky note."

Mora claims CollegeAmerica officials persuaded her to enroll - twice - by lying about the school's degree programs and the career opportunities available to its graduates.

The complaints states: "In June 2007, Ms. Mora became interested in attending CollegeAmerica at its Fort Collins campus.

"She was told that CollegeAmerica offered a quality education designed for people who work.

"She was told that she needed to obtain at least an associates degree in order to train either as a pharmacy technician or as a radiology technician.

"She was told that CollegeAmerica offered a program which would ultimately qualify her to work either as a radiology technician, limited scope, or as a pharmacy technician.

"Ms. Mora enrolled with CollegeAmerica in June 2007 to become a radiology technician, limited scope.

"Ms. Mora's specific degree program was called a Medical Specialties Associates Degree. However, she wanted to be able to become certified as a radiology technician, limited scope. She was not told that her degree was as a medical assistant until after she had signed her enrollment agreement and paid her tuition.

"The radiology classes offered by CollegeAmerica, however, were substandard. The X-ray machines that the students used in class were out of date, and often did not even work.

"Further, the teachers did not know how to operate the machines.

"In October 2008, after attending CollegeAmerica for a year, Ms. Mora learned that the Fort Collins campus of CollegeAmerica did not offer a radiology program and that the classes offered would not prepare her for the certification examination for a radiology technician limited scope.

"Rather than terminating her study at CollegeAmerica and wasting the money that had she had already paid them for tuition, Ms. Mora thereafter changed her program of study to pharmacy assistance.

"Ms. Mora then learned that the pharmacy assistant program would not train her to be a pharmacy technician.

"She graduated with an associate's degree in medical specialties in October 2008.

"This degree allowed Ms. Mora to work as a medical assistant - something for which no degree is required.

"She sought job placement assistance from CollegeAmerica. Although they had job opportunities for medical assistants, they did not have any job opportunities for pharmacy assistants.

"Without the help of CollegeAmerica, Ms. Mora found a job working as a pharmacy technician at Walgreens. She also learned that she did not need an associate's degree in order to work in the pharmacy at Walgreens, but that Walgreens would train her."

When Mora complained, she says, school officials told her "that if she did not want to waste the time and money that she spent at CollegeAmerica, she would need to complete their bachelor's program."

Mora says she took the administrators' advice, only to be frustrated by another year of spectacular ineptitude.


"After completing her enrollment paperwork, Ms. Mora expected to receive her list of classes and time of attendance, but CollegeAmerica failed to provide her with information regarding her enrollment," the complaint states.

"She contacted CollegeAmerica to find out when her classes were to begin, and was informed that her classes were online.

"She also contacted CollegeAmerica's financial aid department to find out how much she had been charged for her education at CollegeAmerica, what she owed, and whether she could qualify for any scholarships or assistance. The financial aid department did not respond to her calls.

"Ms. Mora learned that the books she had paid for for her classes in the bachelor's program were not hard copy books, but were also online.

"Unfortunately, CollegeAmerica's online system, called Angel, continually failed. Ms. Mora was frequently unable to access her online books to prepare for her classes.

"Despite repeated calls to CollegeAmerica to either provide her with a physical book or to repair Angel, Ms. Mora was not provided with books, and Angel continually failed sporadically.

"Ms. Mora also found that her teachers were often unqualified to teach their subjects. For example, her accounting teacher, while a capable teacher, had never taught accounting before, and had to learn the subject along with the students. Often, teachers were unable to operate that equipment that they were demonstrating the proper use of.

"Further, Ms. Mora's online classes were unorganized. For example, the students would be told to study a certain subject, but the test following the subject would be unrelated to what they were told to study."

Mora says that her complaints were sarcastically rejected by the school's campus director and dean of education.

She claims that when she demanded an itemized account of her tuition expenses, her program director "gave her a sticky note indicating that she had been charged a total of $65,000 for her education at CollegeAmerica. He did not, however, provide her with an itemization of what this amount entailed, what had been paid, and what was still owed."

After she graduated in 2011, Mora says, she complained to the State of Colorado, claiming that she received a "substandard education" from CollegeAmerica.

She claims: "On May 23, 2011, the State of Colorado, Division of Higher Education determined that it did not have jurisdiction over Ms. Mora's complaint regarding her bachelor's degree because CollegeAmerica was not an authorized institution to offer bachelor's degrees in Colorado. CollegeAmerica was only then in the process of applying for authority to offer a bachelor's degree.

"Ms. Mora was not told in January 2009 when she applied for CollegeAmerica's bachelor program that it was not authorized to offer any such degree.

"Ms. Mora only learned this fact in May 2011, when the State of Colorado, Division of Higher Education determined that it did not have jurisdiction of her complaint.

"Throughout her association with CollegeAmerica, Ms. Mora has sought to air her complaints regarding her education and rectify those problems.

"In each instance, she was led to believe that her best course of action was to remain at CollegeAmerica, either because her credits would not transfer or she would not be entitled to a refund of her tuition.

"Even then, Ms. Mora was led to believe that if only she completed the bachelor's program with CollegeAmerica, her education would be worth it because she would be prepared to seek a job in healthcare administration.

"Rather, her education has only qualified her to work in the same job she obtained while she was attending CollegeAmerica - a pharmacy assistant."

After this fiasco, Mora says, she joined the military, "since military service can qualify her for forgiveness of her student loans."

According to its website, CollegeAmerica has campuses in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Fort Collins, Colo.; Flagstaff and Phoenix, Ariz.; Idaho Falls, Idaho; and Cheyenne, Wyo. It also offers classes online.

According to Mora's complaint, the Center for Excellence in Higher Education filed Articles of Merger on Dec. 31, 2012 with the Colorado Secretary of State, merging the state's three CollegeAmerica campuses into it.

Mora seeks reimbursement of $65,000, treble damages and punitive damages for fraud, breach of contract and violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.

She is represented by Russell Bean with Clanahan, Beck & Bean in Denver.

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