Refunds Issued to Students Who Received Misleading College Degrees

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa Attorney General today announced former students of a for-profit online college are now receiving payments after they learned their four-year education degree would not allow them to teach school in Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Education had not approved Ashford Online Education Courses for certification for Iowa teachers.

“I would say, if you think it’s too good to be true, it probably is," said Christina LeBlanc, of Comanche. "Ask more questions, and don’t assume," she added.

Students began taking classes with Ashford, which has a physical campus in Clinton, and is a subsidiary of Bridgeport Education of San Diego.

The Consumer Protection Division of the Iowa Attorney General is refunding $5.2 million to 296 former students in Iowa, who had sought an online degree from Ashford.

Refunds range from $1,000 up to $55,000.

“While these refund amounts sound like impressive amounts, they still won’t cover the huge debts these Iowans racked up while seeking teaching certificates,” said Miller. “Students who were led to believe that they’d be licensed to teach in a classroom.”

On hand for the news conference were two former Ashford students who were given refund checks. Amber Izer of Des Moines was handed a check for $48,000, while LeBlanc was refunded $21,000.

LeBlanc said she was drawn to Ashford due to being able to take class online, work full-time, and take care of her family. She plans to continue getting an education towards being a teacher.

“You would think with a college degree, a four-year program, you’d be able to get licensed," said Miller. "That is sort of the natural assumption that anybody and everybody would make, they might have something in their disclosure, way tucked away saying that that’s not the case."