NEW YORK – A victim of Laureate Education, the Clinton-backed, for-profit college, has come forward with accusations that its Walden University Online is a scam that piles tens of thousands of dollars of debt on unsuspecting students while unreasonably delaying degrees or often failing to deliver them.
“When I signed up for Walden Education in January 2009, I was told I would get my Doctor of Education degree by December 2011, after two years study for a cost of $40,000,” explained Teresa Ferguson, a mother of three teenagers who resides outside Atlanta.
“That was OK with me. I could accept two years and $40,000, but that isn’t the way it happened,” she explained. “With Walden, I was hit with delays and program change after program change, so it took me two extra years and I ended up with $120,000 in tuition debt. I’m a schoolteacher. How am I ever going to pay off a debt like that?”
Walden University Online: ‘A complete scam’
At Walden, once she had completed her required courses, Ferguson faced a series of changes in her dissertation advisers and in the chair of the education department she alleges were intentionally designed to extend the enrollment time needed to get her doctorate. The delay forced her to pay additional tuition far above her initial expectations.
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“Laureate Education is a scam,” Ferguson, a teacher of English as a second language at a county high school, told WND in an email and telephone interview.
“Bill Clinton makes $16 million being ‘honorary chairman’ at Laureate while meanwhile Walden Online University ruined my life,” she said. “I have three teenage children, and now I have no clue how we’ll pay for their college with my student debt so high.”
WND reported last week Laureate Education paid $16 million to Bill Clinton to be the group’s pitchman while the State Department funneled $55 million to Laureate when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
Ferguson participated in a class action suit, Travis et al v. Walden University LLC, that was filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Maryland and dismissed in 2015.
“I pray you will do the research (to) expose how badly Walden is hurting their students,” she wrote to WND in an email. “Laureate Education and the Clintons should not be allowed to get away with this.”
But Ferguson has not yet stopped fighting.
“I am one of the many Walden students who are trying to sue the college for their many delays, changes in committees, and fraud against their own policies. It should not be allowed,” she told WND. “Our group is still fighting and trying to get a new lawyer, but we need someone who can be a voice for us.”
Two years and $120,000 in student debt later
Ferguson said that after “a series of unreasonable delays, I finally got my Ed.D. in 2013, but only after I took on a total $120,000 of student debt.”
“Now I have no idea how we’re going to pay for my teenagers to go to college when my student tuition debt is so high,” she said.
Ferguson was initially attracted to Walden University because she could complete her graduate work online.
“I thought with my busy career teaching and raising my three teenage children, I thought that was perfect,” she said. “I’m pretty much self-motivated, and I liked the idea of online study.”
But while her required coursework went as expected, Ferguson’s problems seriously began when she got to the dissertation stage of her graduate work in the spring of 2011.
“I was a week from getting my doctorate. I’d already passed my final oral and gotten my final approval from my thesis adviser,” she continued. “Then I got an email stating that my thesis adviser had been fired.”
From there, her experience with Walden Online University went from bad to worse.
“The new adviser disapproved 55 pages of my work, most of which was from the proposal stage that had been approved eight months earlier,” Ferguson said. “Then there were more firings of my dissertation supervisors, with the result I had to extend my enrollment for two more years and pay a lot more tuition money before I got my degree.”
She found her experience pursuing a doctorate at Walden University Online both frustrating and costly.
“Can you imagine being one week away from graduating and someone new comes along and says you’re not graduating,” Ferguson continued. “Instead, you have to take another course, you have to redo your work. Then, eight months later, you finally finish.
“At the end, I was literally living in a hotel and letting my husband take care of our kids because I was trying to finish my dissertation after all these changes were required. I was having migraine headaches and I’m disabled. I can only use one hand to type.”
Ferguson told WND she telephoned and wrote to the president of Walden University Online and even made a complaint with the attorney general’s office in Georgia, but she failed to get any satisfaction.
Hundreds of student complaints filed online
Complaints from Walden University Online graduate students have been posted on websites such as GotClassAction.com and ComplaintBoard.com, maintained as a National Consumer Complaint Forum, all support Ferguson’s accusations.
“Gordon C.” explained in a post two days ago on GotClassAction.com why he wants to join a class action suit against the school:
I have had such a bad experience with Walden that I too would like to join a class action lawsuit. I found instructors to be very dismissive, complaining that they did not have time, and only to find out that this was a side job for them in that they worked for another institution besides Walden. I now owe $20, 000 with nothing to show for it. Yes let me know if I can join. Interesting how Bill Clinton took $16 million from this institution and the government won’t take action. I think I smell a rat here. Hillary will lose my vote over this.
On Feb. 28, “Very Disappointed Student” criticized the instructors in a post on GradReports.com:
It is going on six maybe seven years and I have not gotten my prospectus approved. I am totally disappointed with Walden University. The instructors are rude and some are pompous and narcissistic. The program does not prepare students for the dissertation. I am in the thick of it financially and have stuck it out this far. Either staff resign or those that sit for you temporarily are getting their pockets lined. No I would never refer anyone to attend Walden it has become a nightmare. Do not go there it truly SUCKS!!!
On April 18, “Dr. Jackson” told of a fruitless seven years as a doctoral student on ComplaintBoard.com:
I am a Doctoral Student Consultant and have been working with a Doctoral student at Walden University. We have been working together for the past 7 years and still haven’t gotten anything accomplished. She is now on her 3rd chair who mistakenly sent an ugly email to her which was meant for another colleague of his. In the email to the colleague, the chair suggested that he should probably dissuade the student from continuing since she has reached her 8th year and is a poor writer. What kind of chair says that about a student? As a partner in this with my student, I deeply disgusted and my student is heartbroken. If there is a lawsuit pending against them and you have a good lawyer, please pass their information along.