Former Everest students say they ran up big debts but didn't get better job opportunities

For-profit college to be sold as part of agreement

Editor’s note:

This version corrects facts related to Ms. Ortega’s degrees and amount of debt.


The U.S. Department of Education says Everest University, a for-profit college with 10 Florida locations, has to sell its local campuses as it investigates allegations of faulty job placement numbers, inflated grades and attendance.

“It was the worst decision ever for me,” said Aileen Ortega.

She said she called Everest University after seeing an ad on television.

Quickly she was hooked.

“They were selling me a dream,” Ortega said. “Better future, more money.”

Ortega pursued associate’s and a bachelor’s degrees at Everest.

“My accountant, who did my taxes during that time, every time she saw the bills for Everest, she said, ‘This is the most expensive school that I've ever seen,’” Ortega said.

Ortega’s job is the same as when she first enrolled at Everest, but she now has tens-of-thousands of dollars in debt that she has not started paying back.

“They're horrible. I wouldn't recommend anyone to go there ever,” said Dianne Harrell.

She studied to be a paralegal, but says she never received her diploma.

Harrell’s complaint was one of 127 filed with the Florida Attorney General's office since 2011.

She claims that they refuse to give her a diploma until she pays money she says she doesn't owe.

“I've had to stop my schooling because I can't get my transcript from Everest,” said Harrell.

“There is, for the majority of them, a real realization that they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning, and that's heartbreaking,” said Mamie Andrews, who was the former Academic Dean at Everest’s Largo campus.

Everest University says it places students in good jobs, has high graduation rates and changes lives.

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