NEW YORK –After reporting Bill Clinton was paid $16.5 million to promote a for-profit university that has come to be known as “Clinton U,” many former students have told WND stories, often in heartbreaking fashion, of being victimized by the institution.
As WND reported in June, Clinton was a pitchman for Laureate Education Inc. and its Walden University Online.
The students who contacted WND affirmed the claims of others who charge Walden 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.
While the Clintons were collecting millions, Hillary Clinton’s State Department funneled at least $55 million to a group run by Laureate Education Inc., according to Peter Schweizer’s book “Clinton Cash” as Breitbart reported.
Bill Clinton abruptly resigned from his post as honorary chancellor in April 2015 when the disclosure was publicized.
Documents uncovered by Washington-based watchdog Judicial Watch show Laureate Education paid the former president through a “shell corporation” pass-through account that evidently passed State Department scrutiny while Hillary was secretary of state.
Further, in a story showing how for-profit colleges encourage huge student debt, Forbes found the biggest borrower on the for-profit college list is Walden University, whose grad students borrowed $756 million in 2014.
As further reported in the new WND Books release, “Partners in Crime: The Clintons’ Scheme to Monetize the White House,” Laureate sent Bill Clinton scurrying around the globe to make promotional appearances at campuses in countries such as Malaysia, Peru and Spain.
‘I owe $100,000 and want vindication’
A former student who was 24 when she enrolled in Walden University in 2006 to pursue a graduate degree in psychology told her story to WND on condition of anonymity.
“Walden University was constantly on my computer screen advertising and popping up on me,” she explained. “Finally, I called them. There was an enrollment adviser who would call me constantly.”
The Walden University adviser promised her that she would have a Ph.D. within five years.
“I was young, broke and desperate,” she continued. “I figured maybe this would be a great opportunity for me to one day make lots of money as a Ph.D. and take care of my family. He called so much, I decided to enroll. It was a huge mistake.”
What she encountered was constant demands to take costly additional courses.
“I started to be blocked from classes if I didn’t get more financial aid,” she recalled. “I was constantly adding to my debt and financial aid. I stopped even looking at the amount of the loans because I desperately wanted out of the program and fast. Three years into the program, I realized Walden had not even granted me a masters even though I had completed all the courses required for a masters and was eight classes into my Ph.D. program.”
Next, she found herself in a seemingly never-ending process of revising her doctoral thesis.
“I found myself constantly enrolled in thesis writing that ended up involving some eight different advisers,” she explained. “I would be sent back the same document with no helpful commentary. It would be the same document after I changed it several times and no helpful remarks from the professors. None.”
After eight different advisers, she found herself stonewalled, unable to recruit another Walden University professor to be her adviser.
“I found myself emailing random people to see if they [would] be my thesis professor. Then they would not communicate at all, and I’d be left with a paper that was that the university told me was not good enough.”
She continued: “I got upset, and I started calling and emailing to get answers. I was hung up on many times, yelled at, and dismissed by ombudsman. I just wanted to know where my Masters was because, at this point, I just wanted out. I called and called.”
Finally, in 2009, she “was told that if I paid more money, I’d be done.”
Instead of a Ph.D., Walden ultimately gave her a master’s degree.
“I asked my poor mom to please give me the money just so I could get out, though without my Ph.D.,” she said, concluding her story. “But I am stronger now, smarter and know better. I know Walden stole from me. I owe over $100,000 in student debt, and I hope one day there will be vindication.”
10 years without a degree
A similar story comes from L. Essence Pryor, a high-school teacher.
“It has been a long 10 years for me at Walden University, and now I’m over $100,000 in student loans, all without a degree,” Pryor explained.
“All of my coursework has been completed, and I have had a change of three chairs and six co-chairs, not to mention lag in response and a firing of one of my professors who had been with me 3+ years before Walden University fired her,” Pryor continued. “The new chair gave me an unsatisfactory grade even though the quality of my work had not changed.”
Pryor has complained to Walden but without satisfaction.
“I have contacted Walden about this situation, but the university has still not given me a firm timeline to finish, nor offered to compensate me for at least one year while I finish my degree,” Pryor said. “What Walden asked in return was for me to sign a release agreeing not to sue them.”
Walden insisted Pryor had to sign the release before the university would resume her graduate program.
When Pryor refused, Walden declined to resume her graduate studies or to allow her to receive a degree, despite 10 years of effort and $100,000 in accumulated student debt attending the university.
‘I panicked, took a leave of absence, and was severely depressed’
Helene Carrington is a student who enrolled at Walden in 2008 and participated in a class-action suit, Travis et al v. Walden University LLC, filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Maryland and dismissed in 2015.
Carrington sent WND the statement of her case that she submitted as her testimony in the class-action case.
She testified she had been enrolled at Walden University since the fall term of 2008 in the Doctorate of Education program with specialization in administration and leadership for teacher learning.
She said, however, she was currently enrolled in the Educational Specialization (Ed.S.) program, a lesser degree program in the same area of study.
“I successfully completed all coursework toward my Doctorate Degree in Education after the Fall Term of 2010 (9/7-12/26),” she said.
Carrington entered the proposal/dissertation stage from the spring term of 2011 through the summer term of 2014.
“I completed a total of 10 out of 11 successful proposal/dissertation terms according to Walden University guidelines/transcripts,” she continued. “I received the only ‘U’ for ‘unsatisfactory’ grade during the summer term (5/6-8/25). The same chair member who gave me this ‘U’ had passed me on successfully, although there is no difference in my performance or lack thereof. I argued the point with the chair to no avail.”
The unsatisfactory grade sent Carrington into a crisis.
“Because of this ‘U,’ I panicked,” she said. “I took a leave of absence, as I was severely depressed and unsure of what I needed to do. I then decided to complete a petition for a different chair and was granted one.”
She returned to school in January 2014 and completed two successful terms under her new chair, even though she found the guidance, communication and assistance completely different than she had received from her previous chair.
“I was angry after the first successful term under the new chair and proceeded to see what could be done to recoup anything, whether it be time, money, or a grade change through what Walden called a Tuition Waiver Petition,” she wrote. “I argued my case numerous times, was denied the waiver and then I appealed it, but was also denied.”
The cost of continuing her doctorate program forced Carrington to settle for the lesser degree.
“The cost of tuition at that time was $5,108 per term,” she recalled. “Clearly, I did not have the ability to borrow, as I was denied a secondary loan. The only solution I found was to switch programs and seek the Ed.S Degree, which was not my intent. However, I felt it was the only scenario available to me.”
Carrington paid Walden $4,470 for the spring term in 2011, only to find the tuition increased each term, ultimately costing $5,100 for the summer 2014 term.
“I would estimate that I paid $35,000 in extra costs, given the delays I faced, with what I calculate were seven terms of study that I really didn’t have to take to complete the original doctorate program,” she wrote.
She noted the two chair professors she was forced to work with were like “day and night” in how they treated her.