May 26, 2015

A for-profit college has agreed to settle federal charges that it misrepresented the quality of job training students would receive.

A Federal Trade Commission complaint (FTC) claimed that Ashworth College told students that they would get the training and credentials they needed to switch careers and that the course credits they earned would transfer to other schools.

In reality, many programs offered by the college did not meet state requirements for desired careers and the claims made about credit transfers were often not true.

According to the Commission's complaint, the Professional Career Development Institute, LLC, doing business as Ashworth College, violated the FTC Act by deceptively marketing its online college degree and career-training programs. The FTC alleges some degrees and programs offered by Ashworth College failed to meet the basic educational requirements set by state licensing boards for careers or jobs such as real estate appraisers, home inspectors, elementary school educators, massage practitioners, and more.

The FTC also alleges the institution claimed that its credits would transfer even though it lacked supporting data that other colleges and universities would accept their credits.

Tuition at Ashworth College ranges from hundreds to several thousand dollars. Ashworth College does not accept student loans, and students are required to pay tuition in full or make monthly payments. However, it does accept military benefits including GI Bill payments, and has directed some of its advertising to military servicemembers and their families.

The settlement imposes an $11 million judgement, which has been suspended due to the college's inability to pay. The settlement also prohibits Ashworth College from misrepresenting that completing Ashworth's program will qualify students to obtain vocational licenses without any additional training or experience and provides all the training necessary for that career. The college is also barred from misrepresenting the chances for steady employment of its former students and if course credits are recognized and accepted by other institutions.