Federal government sues college with campuses in Utah, Idaho

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The federal government is suing Stevens-Henager College on allegations of illegal recruiting tactics.

The lawsuit, filed in Idaho and made public Thursday, claims the college broke the law by paying recruiters bonuses and commissions to entice new students.

It all came to light after two former employees came forward. One of them is Nannette Wride, the widow of murdered Utah County Deputy Sgt. Cory Wride.

In order for colleges to offer federal student aid, such as loans and grants, schools must agree to not offer recruiters incentives. But the lawsuit claims Stevens-Henager ignored that for many years and lied to the federal government to receive more than $650 million in taxpayer money.

Stevens-Henager is a college with campuses in Utah and Idaho. The federal lawsuit claims the college defrauded the government over a period of about 10 years. A Salt Lake City civil attorney with ties to the case said recruiters even enticed the homeless to cash in on illegal commissions.

"These bonuses were substantial and in some cases would double the client's take home pay," said attorney Brandon Mark. "There was a great incentive that everyone who comes through the door, you've got to make them a student regardless of whether they can benefit from the education or, frankly, even qualify to be a student."

U.S. Attorney Wendy Olsen said Thursday: "Fighting fraud and protecting federal tax dollars from abuse is a priority for this office. Whistleblowers are necessary to our on-going efforts to combat fraud, waste and abuse."

Nannette Wride was one of those whistleblowers. A year before her husband, Deputy Sgt. Cory Wride, was gunned down in the line of duty, Nannette Wride sued Stevens-Henager. She used to be a recruiter and assistant to a dean.

Her claim is part of what alerted federal authorities to investigate Stevens-Henager for two years. But Wride's allegations are separate from the government's complaint. She alleges that some of the college's faculty weren't qualified to teach and Stevens-Henager brushed it under the rug when it was brought to their attention. Her lawyer is Brandon Mark.

"The number of faculty at this point is unknown, it's early in the lawsuit so we haven't been able to do a lot of discovery yet, but we know of at least a handful of faculty members at the Orem campus in particular that were not qualified to teach the classes," Mark said.

Stevens-Henager has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit, Mark said.

However, CEO Eric Juhlin released the following statement:

Stevens-Henager College believes that the recently announced lawsuit is completely baseless and without merit and is providing this statement without further comment due to the pending litigation. Initiation of this lawsuit is an orchestrated attempt by two unprincipled, disgruntled former employees to use the legal system to extort money from the college.

The college’s compensation practices have always complied with federal rules and regulations, consistent with advice given to us by legal counsel, and we are confident that our practices will withstand any legal review.

1.     Stevens-Henager College is an ethical organization with decades of demonstrated compliance with applicable federal regulations and accreditation standards.

2.     Stevens-Henager College’s compensation policy for its admissions consultants, or any other employees involved in the enrollment process, does not allow for any bonuses or payments for simply enrolling students.

3.     Students who enroll into Stevens-Henager College’s degree programs must meet specific enrollment standards, including having a high school diploma or GED. We are passionate about supporting our students and helping them strive to improve their lives through education.

4.    Stevens-Henager College has a 123-year tradition of employing qualified faculty members with education, training, and experience in their respective fields. Our faculty, facilities, and curriculum are periodically and consistently reviewed by accreditors and other regulatory agencies.

5.     Unfortunately, organizations throughout the United States often find themselves having to defend baseless lawsuits. Stevens-Henager College is not immune to this tragic reality.

6.     Stevens-Henager College will aggressively defend itself against these allegations while remaining dedicated to providing our students with high-quality, ethical, and career-focused education and related services.

29 comments

  • kristie

    I was told i would only be charged for the classes i took. but I had some health problems and was not able to finish.. and they still took the full amount. and now I have 20000 in student loans I cant pay. for nothing.

    • Brittany

      Kristy same thing happened to me I attended 2 month my daughter got sick was in the er and drs for 3 weeks, I got notes and everything from the dr /hospital they told me they didnt matter, dropped me from the program if I wanted to re enroll I would have to pay 500 out of pocket up front, I didnt re enroll but now I am stuck with thousands of student loans that I have nothing to show for because there charging me for more than the classes I took! I wonder if we as passd students can file claims against them as well, for lying to us about scholarships to get us in the door! I know none of my teachers had a teachers degree! One councilor I talked to because the teachers aid messed with my grades because she didnt like me and I told the teacher and the councilor and they said not to worry about it because if I do anything it would make the school look bad!

    • Katie

      I went for about a month but THEY did something wrong with my financial aid (sent out wrong forms to former college) so I ended up having to leave the school but was told I could return. Whelp I couldn’t and they charged me $40,000 anyway for classes never taken how is that legal? I mean I would pay if I actually attended those classes but I didn’t.

  • Kristy

    I attended here as well and my dad was sick and dying so I took a week off and they kicked me out. Now I owe all this money, will I be apart of this?

  • James Beebe

    They deserve to be sued. I went there for awhile and not only did they not teach me they made sure I continued to receive A’s so they could keep receiveing federal funding. I also wasted a lot of my own money on this company which I would like to get back!

    • James Beebe

      I knew this was going to happen and that is why I quit attending. I hate to think there are nurses in the workforce due to this company it’s a scary concept. I feel as though there is a lot of victims in this case from the Federal government to millions of students and I hope we are all addressed.

      • James Beebe

        Basically all that was required to receive an A was for the students to show up for class. I know if I owned a company there is no way I would hire a student from this school based on my personal experiences.

  • Lacie

    I am $40,000 dollars in debt after getting my associates degree with Stevenshenagers and can’t get a decent paying job to save my life. It was a waist of my time and money!!

    • Mickey Bitsko

      “Waste”. Not “Waist.”

      I suspect your problem may date back earlier than college…..

  • klingonwriter

    Does this effect those of us paying Student Loans? I’m also a former student of 3 years at the college without a degree to show for it and am stuck with over $32,500.00 in Student Loans from this “school”. I’m pissed to think SHC used me to fraud the Government. I hope they prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. Hopefully if they get this money back from SHC it’ll lower my Federal Student Loans.

  • torri

    Is there any way that the public that was tricked into school by these recruiter crooks can get in on the lawsuit? Iv was told that while I was losing wrought and getting ready for EMT training that the med program would be getting my prerequisites out of the way, then I found out that the credits are not even transferable! I had to switch to graphic arts because I couldn’t leave the school that I had been conned into!! Then my laptop broke and they refused to replace it like the contact I signed stated they would! These people are getting from more than just the government! Is there any chance to clear my credit and get the money for fasfa so I can actually go to a good college?

  • Lunch Meat

    Posting here anonymously. I can’t say the school itself helped me very much, but my brother and I both graduated here and ended up successful in our career choices. In fact, the only reason I got my foot in the door is because my professor told the class about a job who was seeking students. I got my foot in the door at that job and only went up from there.

    But I knew about a month or two into this that this school wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. It felt like a scam and we always joked about that fact. The only reason I stuck through it was because I knew that if I quit I would have a huge sum to pay back for nothing. Some may argue that a degree from this “college” is worth nothing, but to me it was at least still something that proves I made my way through school.

    I am not at all surprised that this is happening to Stevens Henagar. After hearing lies from the recruiters and seeing people being conned into taking classes that they don’t really have a future in is sickening. My schooling was a whopping 70,000. That is right. 70 grand that I have to pay back. Thankfully I worked good jobs through and beyond college to make enough money to pay a few hundred a month, but it still makes me sad to think I could have gone somewhere much more creditable for a lot less.

    Stevens Henager was a joke. The only thing I got out of it was the job listing I mentioned above. That work experience is what helps me move up in my career. I too am ashamed to have their name on my resume. You wouldn’t believe how many times somebody would hear that I went to SH and they say “Isn’t that the joke college?”. Its so sad to think I spent years of my time and thousands of my dollars for this. I am just glad that my brother and I were able to be some of the lucky few that can find a job after SH. In fact, the school keeps bothering us both, wanting to use us as success stories. Neither of us will oblige to such a silly request. I don’t want people to see our pictures on the wall and think “Wow if I go here I can maybe be successful to”. The sad fact of the matter is, a mass majority of SH graduates go on to work retail or at a copy shop. It makes me sad even thinking about it.

  • Holly McDaniel

    Fellow students I have made a group page on Facebook. Please join.!
    Students fighting for themselves against Stevens Henager is the group please join

  • Shelly Pay

    Ok to all of you please join our facebook site. My name is Shelly Pay the site isite is Students fighting for themselves afainst Stevens Henager. There you call express your concerns. We are banning together. Call Matt Gephardt. Together we will fight for a lawsuit.

  • OneMoreThought

    Would you ever expect to get your gym membership free just because you’re still fat? you pay for what you use. You also get out of it what you put in. I didn’t go to this college, but another one like it. I saw people that expected the instructors to pass them even when they barely attended. What I was told was that after a certain amount of time missed in class, that the department of education forces a school to drop you. Unless you burned a bridge with that college, then you could probably enroll again. Finish what you started, get your degree, and be the best at what you learnd. THAT is what got me the perfect job in the field i wanted.

    As far as the allegations – Innocent until proven guilty

    • Shelly Pay

      Please all of you thst want to fight. Go to facebook and look up this site. Students fighting for themselves against Stevens Henegar. Please join then add your name and contact information. I have almost 30 people already today.

      • kristie

        hi shelly I am not able to find this on facebook but I am very interested please let me know what i need to do thanks kristie elwood

  • Ken Rowland

    ITT Tech has done the same thing to me this is a terrible practice of manipulating those who want to be educated. I was informed by a an employee there by the name of Steven (who was later fire for drug addiction)who informed me that my credits would be able to transfer to a University. I was over 10k in debt in 3 terms when i was told the truth. This needs to be stopped.

  • .

    I go to this school and the teachers are great! Also if I don’t go to class I get the grade that I deserved not an “A”. And all my teachers are qualified to work there with plenty of experience in the field that they are teaching.

    On the other hand being recruited there I was lied to about how much I had to pay back in student loans.

    Also for people who can’t get a job your going again a lot of other people maybe you should rethink your resume or how you interview?

    • EducationRocks

      Most Instructors do really care about the students at smaller private colleges. At bigger schools…the focus is not on the student..but on research or writing a book. Teaching is lost in the fine print..:)

  • Silvia

    I graduated back in 08 no job for what I went to school for now having to owe more than 40k to this school such a joke I couldn’t even get a job at a school because of my degree was from Stevens henager wish I could just give them back my degree cause it doesn’t do me any good.

  • Adam

    Its an amazing college! I went there and received a degree in their Medical Specialties Program. I am now making great money. If there is anyone who didn’t learn anything, its your own fault-not the colleges.

  • Kong

    I hate to be rude but really, did you people do any research before joining? Ofcourse they’re a scam! You received a loan for more than 50 thousand, to do something you could have done in a community college for less than 10 thousand. you’re a sucker, if not Stevens Henegar some other person would take your money selling you ice. Start a Facebook page against the goverment for allowing you to take out a loan.

  • William Brock

    I am a current student of Stevens Henager College. Although I feel that the college is high priced, I am still satisfied with the school, and all the instructors I have had so far. In my opinion every instructor I have had so far is very well competent to teach their particular subject. I would hope that a degree from there would be worth something, as I have to give my effort and time to learn and understand the content, and relate it to application in the real world. I find it really disturbing to hear all of these accusations. I really like the school and would like to continue my education with them, and I feel that all the bashing taking place degrades the value of my hard effort. I feel that you only get what you decide to work hard to gain out of any education, and an education from Stevens Henager is no different.

  • Ev

    There have been a lot of comments about what people think they deserve from this school, when the majority of them cannot find jobs because of their own problems, or because they dropped out of school. The secret to any college is you get out of it what you put into it. We currently live in a society that feels so entitled to everything! Nobody wants to put in the effort.

Comments are closed.

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