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CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed suit against Westwood College, charging the institution with deceiving students into piling up tens of thousands of dollars in student loans for meaningless degrees in criminal justice.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, Westwood College is known for its ad campaigns, including YouTube clip showing characters in comical dead-end jobs. The man who dances around with a sign in front of a pizzeria calls his job “kind of like marketing,” while the man who picks up roadkill laments not going into criminal justice.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports
But Jessica Pierce, who graduated from the Westwood campus in the Loop in 2007, claims her actual criminal justice degree from the school is worthless. She calls it a “paperweight.”
Pierce says she is more than $54,000 in debt for the degree.
“I’m proud to say I worked full time and went to school full time, nights, for three years to get a bachelor’s,” she said. “But then comes the worst part of the question – Where did you get your degree from? I say, ‘Umm, Westwood.’ And I’m embarrassed.”
Attorney General Madigan says Westwood’s recruiters, administrators and faculty lied to students about almost every aspect of the criminal justice program.
A statement from a Westwood representative says in part: “We are proud of our legacy of helping students obtain their educational goals. We have hundreds of successful graduates working in the private and public criminal justice field throughout the state of Illinois.”
The for-profit college adds that it is cooperating with Madigan’s office to “resolve any outstanding issues.”