Stratford Career Institute Settles Charges Over Diploma Scandal
Acquiring a high school diploma is important for many students as it opens for possibilities of further education in a college or university or landing a job. But it seems like students of Stratford Career Institute found it difficult to use their diploma because it isn't recognized by schools and employers alike. Due to this, Stratford has agreed to a suspended $6.5 million settlement that resolves the Federal Trade Commission's allegations.
In a press release statement, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that Stratford Career Institute agreed to pay $250,000 of a $6.5 million settlement to put an end to charges that it deceived consumers about its education programs. FTC brought the charges back in February 2016 alleging that Stratford misled consumers about its high school diploma program. Stratford falsely advertised their program to induce students to pay the $989 course, as reported by the Consumerist. The course required students to only obtain 18 credits for completion, however, it was noted to have failed to meet the basic requirements set by most states.
In effect, when a student graduates, Stratford Career Institute's records showed that those who tried the company's diplomas were often told by prospective employers and college admission officers that the program was not equivalent to a traditional high school diploma. Under the stipulated order released by the Federal Trade Commission, Stratford is prohibited from making false claims regarding their programs and when marketing, it is required to disclose that some school and employers may not recognize the diploma. Moreover, it also required Stratford to notify current students of their right to cancel enrollment and stop efforts to collect money from those who cancel.
The Federal Trade Commission's settlement imposes a $6.5 million judgment that will be partially suspended when Stratford Career Institute has paid $250,000. The full judgment will become due immediately should Stratford be found to have misrepresented its financial conditions. Obtaining a high school diploma is hard enough for students and there shouldn't be a case where schools deceive students in order to collect money. First and foremost, the reason schools exist is to provide education and guidance to students so that when they pursue further studies or apply for a job, they would be able to present their diploma with pride.