National misrepresented job placement rates, sanctions to be determined
FRANKFORT, KY. (June 17, 2019) – Attorney General Andy Beshear today announced that the Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld a Fayette Circuit Court’s finding that American National University, formerly known as National College of Kentucky, willfully violated the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act.
Beshear said National broke state law when it published deceptive advertisements on its website regarding the employment success of its graduates. The allegations involved all of the college’s campuses in Kentucky, which were located in Danville, Florence, Lexington, Louisville, Pikeville and Richmond.
The Court of Appeals opinion, issued Friday, rejected National’s arguments that because an affiliated corporation, also owned by its owner, Frank Longaker, published the information, the school was not responsible for the misleading ads. The court remanded the case to Fayette Circuit Court to decide the number and amount of penalties.
“This is a win for Kentucky college students who deserve fair and accurate information about their future job prospects and not bogus, inflated numbers fabricated by a school,” Beshear said. “My office will continue to stand up to for-profit colleges that put profits ahead of the educational needs of our Kentucky families.”
The Court of Appeals also affirmed the trial court’s finding that National’s actions were willful.
In September 2011, the Office of the Attorney General filed suit against National in Fayette Circuit Court. After a 10-day bench trial in 2018, the trial court ruled National misrepresented its job placement rates to prospective students and imposed civil penalties as a sanction. National appealed that judgment to the Court of Appeals.
In a related 2010 case, the Office of the Attorney General issued a subpoena to National seeking to investigate possible violations of Kentucky’s Consumer Protection Act. Instead of responding to the subpoena, National attempted to block the investigation by filing suit in Franklin Circuit Court.
In 2014, Franklin Circuit Court required National and its attorneys to pay the state a combined $157, 000 in civil monetary sanctions for violating court orders compelling National to produce materials subpoenaed by the attorney general. A three-member appeals panel affirmed those sanctions in 2016.
As attorney general, Beshear and his team have worked to protect students from predatory for-profit colleges and lenders.
Friday, Beshear announced his Office of Consumer Protection secured $2.2 million in student loan debt relief for 325 former Kentucky students of the failed for-profit college ITT Tech.
Beshear’s office and 10 other attorneys general led a 43-state coalition to reach a settlement with Student CU Connect CUSO, LLC, which offered deceptive loans to finance students’ tuition at ITT Tech locations in Louisville and Lexington in Kentucky and across the country.
Nationally, the settlement will result in debt relief of more than $168 million for more than 18,000 former ITT students.
To date, nearly 8,000 Kentucky students have received more than $8 million in student loan debt relief or restitution from for-profit colleges Beshear has held accountable.
Beshear’s office is currently investigating the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority (PHEAA), one of the largest loan servicers in the country. Beshear’s office won a decision from the Franklin Circuit Court in July 2018 overruling a petition by PHEAA to halt the investigation.
Students misled by National’s employment success rates are encouraged to apply to the U.S. Department of Education for forgiveness of their federal loans under the “Borrower Defense to Repayment” regulation.
Any student who believes a private college or loan servicer has treated them unfairly can contact Beshear’s office at 502-696-5300, or complete an online complaint form.