Madigan says Westwood College degrees have failed to qualify graduates for careers in the field of criminal justice. She claims Westwood graduates are also left with thousands of dollars in debt from classes that fail to prepare them for careers.
Madigan says a Westwood College diploma is not likely to get graduates jobs with state or local police departments. She accuses Westwood of lying to students about its accreditation status.
Todd Brown's goal was to become an Illinois State Trooper. He was counting on his degree from Westwood College to get him there. The 24-year-old Bolingbrook resident was well into the interview process when his dream was cut short.
"You got your foot in the door, and two weeks later they call, say you can't have the job because your school is not regionally accredited," Brown said.
Brown is now left with a worthless degree and over $50,000 in school loans to pay back, Brown said, and he is not alone.
Westwood graduates joined Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan as she announced a lawsuit against the for-profit Westwood College. Illinois is home to four campuses.
Madigan accuses Westwood of using deceptive practices and advertising when marketing its criminal justice program.
"Westwood consistently misrepresented its accreditation status, which barred many students from pursing careers in law enforcement," said Madigan.
Westwood is nationally accredited, but not regionally.
The Denver-based Westwood College says it is cooperating with the Illinois attorney general's office. In a written statement, Westwood College spokesperson Emily Port said, "We have hundreds of successful graduates working in the private and public criminal justice field throughout the State of Illinois."
But none of the Illinois residents interviewed by ABC 7 have a job in the field they were promised by Westwood recruiters.
Single mother of four Annette Arkema went back to school in her 40s with the goal of a career as a victims advocate. She now works at Sam's Club.
"I wanted to teach my children, no matter how old you are, education is important," said Arkema, a Westwood graduate.
Madigan's goal with the lawsuit is to shut Westwood's Illinois campuses down and force the college to return students their money.
Madigan says, according the federal government, a degree from a for-profit college costs five times more than a community college.
Madigan says federal student loans account for close to 90 percent of for profit college revenues.