Student says college won't refund money

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POSTED: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - 4:12pm

UPDATED: Friday, May 27, 2011 - 1:42am

An area mother of three says a local college owes her money, and she hasn't been able to get it back. She's not the only one. Other students are having the exact same problem.

When Demetrius Hall started taking classes at Baton Rouge College, she never expected to fall into debt. "From the moment I stepped into that college to enroll, to know that I was literally a victim, that was just troubling."

Hall qualified for financial aid, meaning she'd get a refund for loans taken out in her name. The refund never came. "I have not seen a dime," she says. "Every time I call for information, nobody knows anything."

Hall says she started getting billed for classes she wasn't taken. Frustrated with the school, she decided to drop out. That was on March 1, 2011. Three weeks later, another loan was taken out in her name. "I have done everything that I could to at least get somebody to explain to me, why are you still taking money from me and I'm not a student there?" she says.

Hall says she's written letters, made phone calls, and contacted everyone she can think of in the administration to get answers. She met with the school's CEO, Paul Dykes, but now, she says he's avoiding her calls.

"He avoided my calls all day yesterday. I left messages. He doesn't answer emails. He doesn't answer voicemails. Nothing," she explains. "If you're running from me and I'm a student and you can't answer my questions, I've got to believe you're hiding something."

Hall says she asked to see her financial aid files Monday. She says an employee denied her that request.  It's school policy that every student have access to financial aid and academic records. "I could not look at my file. I could not make copies. I could not look at my financial aid file," she says.

NBC33 received calls from other students with a similar problem, but they did not want to be interviewed. "They're afraid to talk," explains Hall. But she says she's not scared. "I'm not afraid, whether I'm a student there or not, because right is right and I don't want this to happen to anybody else. Its not going to stop."

Hall says she's contacted the Better Business Bureau, the Department of Education, and the College Accreditation Board. She says an employee with the Accreditation Board wants to investigate.

CEO Paul Dykes says he's aware that students are frustrated with the financial aid process. The school recently lost their financial aid director and he attributes the back-up in refunds to the absence of that position. The school has a consulting group working to fill that position now. "We're not here to hold people's money," Dykes says. "We're here to make sure that these individuals and these students are comfortable where they can come in academically and learn."

Dykes also addressed Hall's situation. He says people who drop out of college have to go through a stringent process to receive their money back. He was surprised to learn that she said he was avoiding her calls. "I'm available. I'm on campus. I'm very accessible," he says. "As many students who are telling you that they can't reach me, there's probably four times that number of students who will tell you that I'm always accessible to them."

Dykes says he welcomes an investigation by the accreditation board. "We have nothing to hide," he says.

Still, Hall is convinced that something isn't right, and she won't stop until the problem is resolved for good. "This is not about the money anymore. Its about the moral of the whole situation, and just making sure that this is truly over for every student there now and for any student that's coming there for the future."

Dykes says they are looking to hire a new financial aid director right now. He says the students will get their money, but he was unable to say when that would happen.

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Can you think of any other product that is marketed as an investment for which people will shell out six figures with no guarantee of anything -- and absolutely no recourse if the product (education) does produce the intended result (a well-paying job)? For some students, sticking to a budget can be more daunting than finals. But it doesn't have to be this way if you discuss the basics, establish guidelines and schedule monthly checkups. There's no reason you and your student can't swap spread sheets via e-mail once a month. Start with the basics when drafting a budget in order to prevent or use those payday loans for bad credit just in emergency cases. Sharpen a pencil with your student and define the monthly cost of a college education. Include the cost of tuition, fees, books, room and board, utilities, transportation, food and extra-curricular activities. Urge your student to buy used books and scrimp whenever possible.

This is not something that has just happened to ONE student. There are plenty of students who have STILL not received their checks. The money was disbursed to the college back in December. Most students are paying interest on this money that they have yet to see. This is a problem! It has been five months, the semester is OVER, and I have yet to see my money or get a decent explanation as to where it is. What troubles me the most is that I never signed an award letter allowing the college to take out the "extra" money that I will be paying interest on for the next 10 years. At this point, I believe there may be more going on behind the scenes than the college just being poorly managed.

Like you said Leann H., there are two sides to every story. So, whos to say what the Administration is actually accurate. Also, staff and faculty are unable to do their jobs efficiently, whether it be refunds or payroll when the administration fails to approve disbursement of funds. Ultimately, what BRCs employees did/do, comes down to the lack of the administration managing and monitoring their employees.

A complaint is a complaint but it's funny that Hall stated that "From the moment I stepped into that college to enroll, to know that I was literally a victim, that was just troubling" If you sense or assume of trouble then WHY DID YOU STICK YOUR HEAD IN THERE!...hihihi.... Watching the news seems to me that Hall is pretty broke...Give the sister her money and everything is resolve! The School should quickly find a replacement and give her money back so she will stop complaining. If you can't talk to Dykes then I'm sure you can talk to someone else at the school. I'm sure every company or institution has a problem of it's own. There will always be someone who complain and every company at some point did something wrong. Another point, "Truth be told" must be one of the student there
at BRC...Why would you pay for what's called "inquiry project" for that cost. Why can't you do it yourself? What's an "inquiry project?" Is this a homework assignment? So you want to pay someone to do your homework? You can't complete their courses and drop out, then owes 10K in debt!
I have a small training school as well and I know how it's like... But I believe BRC is also wrong if they don't return the students' money.

You sound pretty ignorant. You cant even get the story right. Hall said that "From the moment I stepped into that college to enroll, to think that I was a victim is troubling." She became a victim after realizing that they was stealing from her. Get your comment straight. I bet you work for BRC. You dont know what goes on in that school. Who wouldn't want money owed to them? She left BRC to transfer to another college and BRC still took out loans in her name. Will you let them do that to you? If so, its because your stupid. As a formal student there, I know that how is telling the truth ang Dykes is lieing. Why wouldnt he lie when he knows that he is in hot water. Hall contacted every employee the school had, BBB, U.S. Dept of Education, Board of Regents, ACCET, ect and they are ALL ON HER SIDE AND INVESTIGATING THE SCHOOL. You really dont know crap so KEEP YOUR STINKING MOUTH SHUT.

First of all, I would say that "you" personally should attend high school. My 10 year old son has better grammatical structure than you. By the looks of it, this lady dropped out of paralegal school either because she was too dumb or was just signing up to steal from the federal government. I would guess the latter because she seems to have the same intelligence level as you.

I can see that you did not listen to news report. Hall never said that from the moment of enrolling into school, she was a victim. Hall said, "To think that I was a victim." That means she is realizing after the facts have taken place. You sound stupid and I think that maybeyou work for the college. Get your facts straight. Does it matter if she is broke? Who doesnt want money thats owed to them? Who will allow a college to steal money from them AFTER THEY DROPPED FROM A COLLEGE TO TRANSFER TO ANOTHER? Did you see the house she was sitting in? Its no way she is broke, she wants her money and I am all for her getting it. If she was wrong, why did she hire an attorney? Dykes put on a fake image for tv and Hall came real. Do me a favor and enroll at BRC and we will see you on the news in about 2 months with the same story, stupid faced.

There is noone managing the school, point blank. The CEO could quite possibly be making false statements to cover his ass.

As a former student at Baton Rouge College, I have had the same problem with not receiving my refund check. I was told by Paul Dykes that he needed to know my personal financial situation so he could look into getting me an "advance" on my check that was owed to me 14 days after the semester started in January. In the story that was aired, she did not mention that we don't receive books at the college. I have an employee recorded, saying, "we're sorry that you don't have books, don't tell anyone that we are making copies of books because that is illegal." Not to mention to write an inquiry project for credit the college charges you $1830 to write a paper. I personally wouldn't reccommend this college to anyone. I'm walking away from this college $10,000 in debt for two semesters, with no education, and a lot of headache.

There are two sides to every story, I attend BRC and although it is only my second semester I have learned a lot, and plan on completing my Paralegal studies at BRC. A lot of students are waiting on refund checks. The school is also waiting on tuition for a lot of students. The previous financial aid director left we were all told that the financial aid dept would need to be straightened out, and they are trying to straighten it out. Several students are convinced that BRC has been given the refunds and don't want to disperse them. In my personal situation BRC was paid my tuition on 12/27/2010, but the financial aid institution that handles my loans said that the only dispersement they paid was for tuition and that no refund had been requested and that is probably because the person that left did not do that before she left. They will also tell you that The school is not required to even participate in any kind of refund program. And as far as books, last semester the person that left was the one who ordered the books so i imagine the instructors were under the impression that books had been ordered. Besides that last semester the complaint was that the books were so expensive and they wanted copies. so go figure. Lets just give them a chance and take some pride in what we as students are trying to accomplish here, I am sure that this happens in other schools also but they are larger institutions and the students are kept in the dark. At least we are aware of the situation. I am not suggesting that students don't need there money, but we just have to let them iron everything out in the mean time we need to do what we came here to do and get a education. And Inquiry projects are a choice and we know how much they cost when we choose to do them.

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