THE CASE AGAINST BCTI
More than 400 students have joined a class-action lawsuit that claims the Business Computer Training Institute defrauded students and enriched its owners. Here’s a look at BCTI’s operations through the eyes of those students, some former employees and regulators.
BCTI recruited at locations as varied as welfare and unemployment offices, the Tacoma Mall and the Salvation Army. Some former employees say recruiters lied to students about BCTI programs and job opportunities to entice them to enroll.
Potential students toured BCTI facilities, learned about financial aid and – according to some students – heard tales of good-paying jobs after graduation.
Nearly all BCTI students got some form of federal financial aid, often a student loan. Some received state grants. The money helped low-income students pay BCTI tuition – nearly $11,000 for a 30-week program in 2004. BCTI was almost completely dependent on public financial aid programs.
Oregon investigators found that BCTI advertised “information technology” classes, but its main program trained students for entry-level clerical jobs. Some students complained of lackluster classes, outdated equipment and high teacher turnover. Some former instructors say they were forced to keep underperforming students in class so the school could collect their financial aid.
BCTI officials say the school had 28,000 graduates over 20 years and most are happy with the education they received. Regulators found substandard graduation rates in many BCTI programs. Whether they graduated or not, many students were on the hook for thousands of dollars in student loans.
Job placement rates in many BCTI programs also were substandard. Many graduates wound up working at retail stores, fast-food restaurants and other low-wage businesses. Many students also defaulted on their taxpayer-backed student loans.
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