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Westwood College Investigated By Federal Government

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Westwood College (credit: CBS)

Westwood College (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – Denver-based Westwood College says it is appalled by the actions of its employees after a government investigation on for-profit colleges.

The report was released at a U.S. Senate committee hearing in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

The issues cited include graduation rates, guaranteed jobs and exaggerated future earnings. It was a General Accounting Office (GOA) investigation not aimed at Westwood in particular, but for-profit colleges in general.

Westwood was one of 15 colleges investigated by the Government Accountability Office. The results weren’t singled out by name to the Senate committee, but they weren’t favorable.

“We found that four colleges encouraged our students to commit fraud. All 15 provided deceptive and questionable information,” Gregory Kutz with the GAO said to the committee.

Using bogus identities and documents, investigators visited the various for-profit colleges. They presented information on whether they qualified for grants and subsidized loans.

Joshua Pryn was a former Westwood admissions representative.

“Deception was built into the admissions department to avoid revealing the full $75,000 price tag for the online bachelor’s degree,” Pryn said.

Among those on the committee was Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.

Last fall CBS4 reported on a number of issues students and former students had with Westwood, including finances.

“I was told that I would have all grants and found out later that I had signed up for a whole bunch of loans I didn’t sign up for,” Westwood student Staci Andrews said in November.

On visits by CBS4 using hidden cameras on two occasions at Westwood CBS4 was told only about monthly fees while attending school, not a much higher interest rate that would have to be paid after graduation.

“We try to make sure we have full disclosure and full transparency for all of our students,” Russ Natoce with Westwood College said in November.

On Wednesday Westwood responded to the GOA report with a statement.

“There are no grey areas, and any employee who fails to follow our strict code of conduct will be terminated,” the statement said.

Westwood has 24,000 students on 17 campuses.

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