Westwood College to forgive $15M in loans to criminal justice students

ABC7 I-Team Exclusive

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Westwood College to forgive $15M in student loans
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Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has reached a voluntary agreement with Westwood College to forgive $15 million in student loans.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There are major developments affecting area students in an investigation of for-profit colleges, the ABC7 I-Team is reporting exclusively. The Illinois attorney general has reached a multimillion-dollar agreement with Westwood College.

"It's like we wasted all this time for nothing," said Kamilah Dew.

Chicagoans Kamilah Dew and her cousin Jamaal Jones dropped out of Westwood College's criminal justice program after finding out it wasn't regionally accredited and was being sued by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

The I-Team first brought you their story in October. Now, the state has reached a voluntary agreement with the college.

"It all came about through students and former students who started complaining to our office a number of years ago about exorbitant costs, poorly accredited programs, failure to get a job in the field their degree was in," Madigan said.

The college will put $15 million towards wiping out the loans criminal justice students obtained through Westwood. It covers students who enrolled as far back as 2004.

"It's a credit to their account so any outstanding balance will be erased and any mention of it on your credit report it will be erased by Westwood at Westwood's expense," Madigan said.

The credit does not cover the students' federal loans.

In a statement to the I-Team, Westwood said: "After nearly four years of litigation, the Office of the Illinois Attorney General voluntarily dismissed its claims and case with prejudice, with absolutely no legal or financial judgments made against the college. We voluntarily forgave debt owed by former criminal justice students who used the college's institutional financing program. This agreement is in the best interest of students, and upholds and confirms our tradition of providing a quality education for our students and graduates, many of whom can be found working at businesses and law enforcement agencies across the state of Illinois."

Westwood also told the I-Team that it discontinued its bachelor's criminal justice program as part of a business decision. Their criminal justice associates degree is still available online.

Westwood was the first for-profit college that the Illinois attorney general sued. Madigan's office is currently investigating 10 other for-profit colleges that do business in Illinois.