RE: Student complaint against
Florida Metropolitan University Online
10117 Princess Palm Suite 400
Tampa, Fl 33610
To Whom It May Concern:
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I have several complaints about my enrollment/financial aid process through FMU online. I was enrolled in the associate degree paralegal program through FMU online from 04/06-01/07. All the classes I took were online only. My student ID# was . I had earned 28 credit hours at the time that I withdrew from classes, in January 2007. That was when I realized the actual total cost of my education. At that point I already owed around $7, 000 in school loans and still had several more terms to complete before I was to get my degree. This was a huge shock to me since I was made to believe that the entire course would cost that. I have enclosed copies of the emails and school related forms that I refer to in this letter.
In late March 06’ I requested information on the paralegal program offered through FMU online. I then received a call from Celeste Maldonado. She was an admissions rep. The main thing I wanted to know was the cost. She said “all of the [online] courses come out at $7, 000.” She didn’t say per term/year/nothing. This was the first time I had attempted college and I didn’t know what questions to ask. I have learned a lot since then but at the time didn’t know anything about college. Like I said, she told me a flat rate of 7, 000, which was a bold-face lie. Also, I thought I was signed up for the associate degree program but I have now realized I was signed up for the Bachelor degree. On my enrollment form she had checked the associate degree box but I have recently noticed that she wrote in 96 credit hours; which are the amount of credit hours to obtain the bachelors degree. After she told me that price I received my quote from financial aid; all I saw was the $7, 000 and it seemed to back up her claims. One term was more than that, so even that was inaccurate. Before the quote was sent to me I had one brief conversation over the phone with Andre Bodon from financial aid, in which he asked me standard questions to complete my financial aid request. This was the only conversation and quote I ever received from FMU financial aid before enrolling. In that one conversation he was very unhelpful and I had even complained to FMU staff of how rude he was. A huge mistake they made was not performing entrance loan counseling and testing on me. It is stated in the FMU course catalog that the Department of Education requires entrance and exit loan interview/counseling to students whom receive Federal Family Education Loans, which I did receive. It is my rights and the schools obligation to counsel me on my total indebtedness and to administer an entrance test (also to mail me an exit interview regarding my loans) so that I understood the amount borrowed and my rights and responsibilities regarding repayment. At the very least I can prove that that was not done. So, my rights were violated. If FMU financial aid would’ve done what they were required to do then I would have understood the actual approximate cost and never have taken the classes. Even the sign up packet advised me to sign the necessary forms, Fed- EX them back, and read over everything else later. So, I did just that and started classes mid-April.
Shortly after starting classes I was beginning to realize things weren’t “adding up”. So, I had sent an email to Teresa Edwards. I asked her questions about the cost. She answered my question correctly but I still didn’t understand how much my education was going to cost. A few months later I was trying to figure out when I would graduate because the admissions rep. had told me it would take two years. I was confused about this because I didn’t think I had enough time to earn the rest of my degree by the graduation date that I was given. So, I sent an email to Isabel Jackson (my student coordinator) and she informed me that I am only part time status. This was a shock to me, of course. A few weeks later she emailed me to tell me I had enough funding to do fulltime if I wanted. I realized around this time not only would it take longer to get my degree but it would cost double than I thought it would ($14, 000). I was completely confused and frustrated but I did not know what to do. So, I sent an email to Ursula Council explaining my issues and she seemed to want to help but she did not contact me or back with the answers.
Then, in December 06’ I received a letter/cash installment agreement from FMU online collections, stating that I owed the school $616.71. This was money owed that my loans & grant didn’t cover. I had been taking classes since April and this was the first time I was notified of this. FMU online collections made the paperwork seem as if I had previously agreed upon a cash installment agreement. I have never made a cash installment plan with FMU, and I didn’t sign this one either. If I would have then they would have already had the signed paperwork at the time of registration. The school policies state –arrangements for payment of tuition for all courses be completed in full at the time of registration. So, how could they do this to me? I later made one payment towards the amount because the collections department said it would be put on my credit if I didn’t. That left my balance at $435.54. I did not make another payment.
In January 07’ I received my financial statement showing how much I had already borrowed and that it had only covered one term. This is when I realized it would even be more than $14, 000! At this point I felt that I had no choice but to withdraw from classes because I could not continue taking on unexpected debt. During and after my attendance through FMU online I sent emails to the FMU staff, that I had email addresses for; explaining my problems. Some didn’t bother to respond. I also spoke to FMU online staff & financial aid over the phone. They gave me the “run around”. I am determined to have this resolved. Through my own efforts I have found two addresses in the FMU course catalog: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, and Florida Commission for Independent Education. This letter is being sent to both. I hope that someone will help me because FMU online has deceived me and violated my rights. My resolution is for FMU to pay back the student loans and Federal Pell Grant (minus the cost of my textbooks, which I shall pay for) that they received on my behalf while I was attending their online school. At that point, they can take back the credits I earned. To me that is more than fair considering I will have nothing to show for all of the time and work I put into those classes. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read this.
P.S. Please look over the papers I have enclosed.