SNHU: Education, but…..

Maybe you have heard the controversy or read the recent Boston Globe feature on SNHU’s program in Rwanda. If you read the article carefully and think on it, you might realize what’s behind this.

In 2014 I was looking into getting another degree, since I thought at the time that this might make me a better job candidate. SNHU sent out their propaganda and I bought the Kool Aid, sadly.

A sweet-talking admissions officer told me how great the school was, and also told me I’d be a “perfect fit.” This was outright deception since I was not a “perfect fit.” The U then told me I did not qualify for a Pell Grant, since I’d used that up years ago, and informed me I’d have to get a loan and also pay out of pocket. I told them I didn’t have the money and I assumed that SNHU was done with.

They contacted me again and said they had gotten me the Pell and with a loan, I could pay for schooling. The admissions officer informed me that any extra money from the loan I could use for school-related expenses. Anyone who was as broke as I was would jump at this opportunity, desperate for money to pay rent and food, just to live on. I fell for it.

I have no clue how they got the Pell Grant. It wasn’t legal. The school milked my Pell Grant and took a lot of money out of the loan. If you’re curious about how much their courses cost, they’re 1,000 a credit and most courses are 3 credits, meaning you pay 3,000 a class. This was in 2014-2015.

I knew that taking anything more than one class at a time was financially impossible and would put me into too much debt. I was clueless over the Pell Grant, too, until I got into the actual class and slowly it dawned on me.

The other students were ten times more clueless than I was, either that or they were publicly acting naive for a reason. The quality of education was truly sad. It was not college! Everything was automated and tests were computer-graded. You never spoke to the instructors. A couple of times I tried (they claimed to have office hours) but I got no answer or the instructor just said he was unavailable. There was no classroom and no interaction between students.

Even worse, every time you call the college they record the call. They freely pass emails around that are confidential, even without the sender’s permission. For instance, if you write to financial aid you might get a response from another department. You may discover Financial Aid passed your PRIVATE email containing private information to this other department. This happened many times. I learned fast that I couldn’t use their email nor call for anything useful.

One time I took a class from another U, that got paid for by SNHU. Quality of education was improved but still poor quality and less learning than traditional education.  I couldn’t believe I was paying $3,000 a class and I would get far better education in community adult ed paying about $100 a class! Overall, these online schools never demanded critical thinking and many students cheated their way through the online, multiple choice questions. I suspect many graduated that program poorly equipped to handle a job, but I don’t know for sure. I can’t imagine they left SNHU with any knowledge of how to write a college essay, or communicate intelligently.

I can’t recall how many classes I took but it wasn’t many before I was so disgusted I wanted to quit. I had already dropped a class. The school literally threatened me and said I would lose my Financial Aid if I did not stay in school and that I couldn’t drop another class nor take a semester off. They continued to call me, demanding that I sign up.

By coincidence, my internet wasn’t working for an extended period nor was my phone.  This was the ONLY way I could get out of the phony educational program I was in. I ghosted my advisor. I left an occasional note saying I had no internet nor phone and if he ever called he got my voicemail.

Yes, I did have to pay back the loan. By that time, I had gathered my thoughts and managed to call the Department of Education. I explained my situation, saying I already had a master’s and the school had coerced me into getting an associate’s degree with them! I explained the poor quality of education and explained that the school had accepted me even though it wasn’t the “perfect fit” they claimed to be.

The Department of Ed heard my complaint. I told them I didn’t see why I should have to pay for this education that was not education. They did not deal with what I had to say, but instead, upon looking into it, decided to waive the loan based on “total and permanent disability.” They just said, “Sign the papers and send them back.” Okay, now what?

I have been stuck with this and now I am working. I did not have to prove a disability. I do have to tell them I earned money, and I will be doing that.  However, they did not demand a doctor’s note nor any paperwork saying I’d been examined recently, or at all. They just gave me this way out since I was on SSDI and they did not want to deal directly with my complaint. They handed it to me, no questions asked, with the assumption that I would never earn money. However, I am working now. I plan to contact them again and explain  they need to deal with my actual complaint.

SNHU obtained the Pell Grant illegally. I had had a Pell Grant in the past, used it up for undergrad, and when I phoned the Department of Ed, somehow that old Pell had been wiped out. I phoned the school that got me the Pell and they claimed they couldn’t access the records. This was likely the case but I might have to call again to see if an exception can be made, or pull some strings.

I believe SNHU has NO ADMISSION POLICY whatsoever. I think they admit anyone to their school, anyone whose aid they can milk, including military spouses. They milk money from foreign students who pay out of pocket and do not get aid.

My plan is to contact the Department of Ed before all this catches up with me. Claiming I was disabled was a way out of investigating the situation, a way of silencing me. I want this issue reopened and dealt with before the loan people start asking me to pay up all over again.

I am not alone. There have been many complaints, more by now since time has passed. More debt on my credit record will lower my credit score considerably and make me ineligible for further credit should I apply.

Anyone out there in the same boat, let me know.

Feedback and comments welcome!