Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hook, Line, and Sinker

As you may have gathered, I went back to school to finish my Associate's degree that I started back in 2001 (about 12 years ago for those of you keeping score). Now, some people would say that 12 years to get a 2 year degree is ridiculous. And I agree! But I did have my reasons.

Anyway, flash forward to my saving grace: online school. As irritating and pointless as it all seems, it does get the job done. I went with Kaplan University, for no other reason than the recruiter said it was affordable. Yes, I'm a dumbass.

I began taking classes while trying to sort out the muck of financial aid. Since we came to the US at the end of 2012 and Steve was still getting paid out of New Zealand until April 2013, our tax situation is really complicated. So complicated, in fact, that we have nothing to do with it. There's a big company that is in charge of filing our 2012 and 2013 returns, and they've got an extension until October to file the 2012 return since it's beyond complex. Honestly, splitting an atom is probably easier.

Why am I bringing this up? Because in order to get financial aid sorted, they have to see your tax returns. I don't really get it, but that's where it is. So I had to explain, repeatedly, to several different people in Kaplan's financial aid department about the tax situation. The end of each of those conversations was always pretty much the same: "I don't know how to do that, but I'm sure it'll be ok. I'll look into it." Which of course they never do.

Last week, it all came to a head. On my Kaplan portal in the financial area, where it's always said $0 due, it suddenly said $2,400 due August 1st. What? And that was after a $1,400 grant was applied, and another $100 "other" grant. What the hell is an "other" grant? The grand total for one term of classes was damned near $4,000!

One part of me was pissed off that I've been trying to work out this whole financial aid thing and just been running into one wall after another. The other thing that pissed me off was that I was told I qualified for a scholarship to take up to $12,000 off the cost of the degree. The final thing that pissed me off was that when I enrolled, I was told the total cost of getting the degree would "only be a couple thousand." Couple=two. Two thousand dollars, which was surpassed in the first term!

Oh, and that scholarship? Up to $12,000 for a bachelor's, up to $6,000 for an associate's, but you have to apply for it BEFORE you enroll with the school. What? No one told me that. I kept bringing it up during enrollment and was fobbed off. Yeah, yeah, we'll get to that later. Already enrolled? Can't do the scholarship now!

So I went into a really dark place. Darker than I've been for a long time, and if you read this with any regularity, you might be able to guess how scary that is.

That was Tuesday last week. Wednesday, I had my seminars, and even though I was 90% sure I would have to drop out because I can't afford the tuition, I went to the seminars. In the second one of the day, someone made the mistake of asking me how I was doing. I unloaded about being angry about the financial aid cock up. The professor responded with a "shut up and go away" response that felt a bit like a virtual slap across the face. The message was clear: we only want to know how you are if everything is fine.

Well, it's not fine. It's far from fine.

Wednesday afternoon, even more information came to light. Steve started doing some digging online and quickly discovered a few things about Kaplan that is disturbing to say the least.

Kaplan University has had multiple class action lawsuits brought against them for poor business practices. They use manipulative and hard selling techniques to recruit students.

Kaplan University charges close to 10 times the amount that other, similar but reputable colleges charge.

There have been instances when people have earned their degree from Kaplan University, but then told that until they pay what's owed, they will not receive said degree.

Even more disturbing, it appears that Kaplan University is using an online job board, Gigats, to recruit. It's how I got caught up in all of this. I applied for a job online, and was told to contact Gigats to do an online interview process. During the conversation with the representative at Gigats, I was told that getting my degree would greatly help my job search. Then, I was transferred. There have been other people, it turns out, that have said they are not interested in furthering their education and they get hung up on. Some have then called the hiring company directly only to be told that the company does not use Gigats, never heard of them, etc.

Anyway, I'm trying to withdraw from Kaplan, but having a few issues doing that. They seem to have lost my contact information. I'm really beginning to wonder how bad this is going to get. So now, instead of being back at square one, I'm a few steps back. This is frustrating.


  1. I hate that you got caught up in all that. I had a similar problem my 1st year of college with a private college. Luckily I left before they lost their accreditation so my credits transferred. Have you checked into filing complaints with the state Department of Ed? Work out a minimal payment plan and get to a state college when you can. Its never too late. I was hoping my diploma would arrive before my AARP card.

  2. I haven't decided on my next move yet. I haven't actually heard anything from them after sending my withdrawal notice. Such a pain!