My Encounter with St. Leo University

By maya.weber, 22 March, 2018

In November or December 2009 I decided to explore the possibility of returning to school and completing my BA. However, I decided to change my major from Art History or Studio Fine Art to the Liberal Arts major. I was thinking of moving into a Communications major. I looked at several schools and decided to apply at St Leo's University in Florida. I applied to their online program.

 

Everything seemed to be fine except I couldn't get the application for financial aid straightened out. Unlike all of the other schools I have ever applied to or attended, this was the very first school that not only had my application all tangled up, they were the first to tell me that it was my responsibility to straighten it out. They declared a totally hands-off attitude over this situation.

 

The first attempt with the financial aid, the mess was with the financial aid office. They kept refusing the documents, copies of actual tax documents that I had sent in. They required that I send to IRS and get a reissue of the documents after I ended up in a yelling match with the head of the Financial Aid Office. I sent the received documents in, missing the deadline to enroll. So I had to start over.

 

In the second attempt, the school accepted the next year's tax documents. Then, in the next step, I was required to take a financial entrance exam on the Government's Student Loan website and have it submitted to St Leo.

 

Even though I took the exam several times and the website indicated that I had successfully passed it each time, it would never designate my work as done. The school kept telling me that I had to keep retaking the stinking test, which I did until I ran out of the allotted number of times allowed.

 

I didn't have a choice but to drop out of school or be responsible for tuition for classes that I had no approved financial aid for. I dropped out July 8, 2010, a Thursday evening, the week after July Fourth Weekend. I figured that that was the end of that. I filled out the online form for dropping out that evening.

 

The middle of the next week, July 14, I was requested by email to fill out a further on-line form which appeared to be in addition to the officially labeled drop form I had filled out previously. I did and thought I was done.

 

Surprise! At the end of the semester, August 1, 2010, I received a bill telling me that I owed $349.26. I shot back an angry letter to them telling them exactly what I was going to do if they didn't stop harassing me with false bills. I didn't hear anything more so I thought that was the end of it. It wasn't the end by a long shot.

 

At the end of the next semester, I received another bill, February 4, 2011, which indicated that my student loan had been freed up and it looks like they had charged my student account for a semester which I had not enrolled in. This bill included the amount that I was billed the last time plus a service charge of $3.45.

 

That was it, I wrote the Government's Student loan people, who gave me an email address to write to which sent me an address to the Department of Education.

 

I finally went into my student email account and found that all of the counselors who are at the school were conveniently out of school for a long weekend on the very weekend that we were to drop out without tuition penalty. July 9 was the last day to drop without a financial penalty. The head involved with dropping out of school conveniently had his email dated July 14 even though his email received my official drop notice the same day as the others.

 

I wrote to the Department of Education and I talked to St Leo's collection department. According to them, I dropped out July 14, 2010, and that I owe one-quarter of the tuition because they had manipulated me into having dropped after the drop deadline.

 

I have a theory. I believe that this is a scam. I believe that the school deliberately has this set up this way to make every bit of money possible whether by honest means or not. They figure that most of their students would rather pay the $349.26 than risk damaging their credit over such a little amount. That means that they are getting away with fraud.

 

Unfortunately for them, I am finally fulfilling the rest of my threat, which is to write an article about this situation, so that anyone who reads this will be warned. Also, unfortunate for them, due to the fact that my husband lost his job in early 2009 because his plant closed down, our credit isn't worth writing anywhere about. Another bad credit mark isn't going to make any difference...so I am not going away quietly to help them cheat another unsuspecting student. I'm not paying what I don't owe.

 

In case you may find yourself in a similar situation here is the address that I was given:

U. S. Department of Education, 61 Forsythe Street, SW, Atlanta, GA 30303

 

Sources:

U. S. Department of Education, 61 Forsythe Street, SW, Atlanta, GA 30303

http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/index.jsp

http://www.saintleo.edu/