Three former students sued Everest College last month, alleging the school committed fraud by misleading them about their ability to transfer credits to other schools and about the cost of their programs.
The proposed class action lawsuit was filed in 3rd District Court by Chelsi Miller, of Midvale; Daniel Marty, of West Valley City; and Christie Cotton, of Salt Lake City. All three racked up at least $30,000 in debt at Everest, the West Valley City campus of Corinthian Colleges Inc., a California-based company that has over 112,000 students at 100 schools and online nationwide.
They say the classes they took were "little more than information sessions" and "worthless toward obtaining the degree students need to actually work" in their chosen fields.
The students allege that Everest admissions representatives received incentives to sign up as many students as possible with "scripted sales pitches" in face-to-face meetings, where they lied about transferring credits and gave inaccurate cost estimates.
Marty enrolled at Everest in 2008 seeking an associate degree in surgical technology after languishing on a four-year waiting list to get into a nursing program at Salt Lake Community College. According to the lawsuit, an admissions representative said his credits would transfer to the University of Utah, where he ultimately wanted to earn a master's degree. When he asked about the cost, a financial aid officer told him to simply apply for loans and "see how much you can get."
Marty said school officials repeatedly claimed he owed more than was first calculated and pressed him to borrow more. He tried to switch to SLCC and the U. but found his credits would not transfer. Marty graduated in August with over $40,000 in debt but will have to start over at a regionally accredited school to become a physician's assistant.
"They're trying to make money and just want to enroll people. They were totally dishonest," he said. "It's not worth the money. What they promise you is not there... It's all sales tactics."
Out of 27 students who started in his program, only three graduated, Marty said.
Everest College spokesman Kent Jenkins said the school has a clear policy regarding what prospective students are told, and that at least one of the plaintiffs tried unsuccessfully to bait employees into saying things that would violate the policy.
"We have a vested interest in making sure students don't take on more debt than they can handle," Jenkins said. "We are serving students that need to do things differently because the traditional education model doesn't work well for them."