February 17, 2015

Colorado Sues CollegeAmerica for Systematic Deception


A state court in Denver has just unsealed the complaint that the Colorado attorney general brought late last year against CollegeAmerica / Stevens-Henager, a former for-profit college network that recently converted to non-profit status. The school’s conversion seems to enrich its founder in ways that disturbingly distort the concept of a non-profit, but its apparent abuses of students are even more troubling.

Last year the U.S. Justice Department joined an employee whistleblower lawsuit charging that College America / Stevens-Henager schools paid their recruiters bonuses, commissions, and other forms of incentive compensation in violation of the federal ban on such compensation. The suit further claims that CollegeAmerica employed faculty members who lacked the minimum qualifications required by the school’s accrediting agency, and that CollegeAmerica officials falsified student attendance records and grades.

The new Colorado complaint ups the ante: It provides new and absolutely shocking allegations of systematic, sophisticated fleecing of students and taxpayers by CollegeAmerica. The lawsuit asserts that CollegeAmerica staff consistently misled and lied to students about the selectivity of the school, the transferability of credits, the jobs they could obtain, the salaries they could earn, and more.

In one stunning example, the school, according to the Colorado attorney general, hyped its “Medical Specialties” associates degree as leading to lucrative careers in a range of medical jobs. The program cost $42,000 — more than four times as much as comparable degree programs at community colleges. But most of the jobs that graduates had a chance to get were low-level, low-paid positions did not require a college degree at all.  Once students had completed the program, CollegeAmerica employees would then sometimes disparage the value of the program and hype the next expensive program — a bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration. But again, most graduates could only get low-rung jobs that did not require an associate’s degree, let alone a bachelor’s.

CollegeAmerica has responded that Colorado’s suit is “full of distortions, half-truths and false allegations.”

Students who get deceived by college recruiters often end up worse off than when they started. CollegeAmerica schools have established records of leaving their students deep in debt. For example, as of 2009, 40.2 percent of students at the Flagstaff, Arizona, campus of CollegeAmerica defaulted on their loans within three years. The figure was 38.8 percent at the CollegeAmerica campus in Denver. For comparison, the default rate at Michigan State University was 4.3 percent.

Raul Valdes Pages, a long-time for-profit college executive who has recently been speaking out against abuses in the industry, personally witnessed the deceptive, offensive tactics of CollegeAmerica when the school sent a recruiting mailing to his daughter. He complained to Stephen Friedheim, a long-time consultant to for-profit colleges.  You can read the exchange that followed:


From: Raul Valdes Pages
To: Stephen Friedheim
Subject: Fwd:
Sent: Thu, Jun 26, 2014 11:27:14 PM

Steve, in spirit of disclosure , I sent to Halperin. I had asked College America not to continue this practice. My daughter has not even inquired at this College but is getting Scholarship   Wonder since she must be “high risk” since she has Hispanic last name.  This is third Scholarship she received. Raul


From: Eric Juhlin

Sent: Friday, June 27, 2014 6:51 AM

To: Raul Valdes Pages
Cc: Steve Friedheim
Subject: FW: Fwd:

Dear Raul,

Steve Friedheim forwarded me your message.  I know we’ve met in the past – I think it was at one of the school groups (BERA, PERK, etc.) meetings.

Anyway, I am the CEO for the group that owns and operates CollegeAmerica.  I’m sorry if this direct mail has been repeatedly sent your daughter after you requested it cease.  Could you tell me who you spoke with when you asked CollegeAmerica to cease this practice?  I’d like to find out what happened and why her name wasn’t deleted for mailings.

Since you indicate that your daughter never contacted the college – I can only assume that her name was part of a direct mailing list that we acquired.  We do a fair amount of direct mail campaigns and we are always selecting and testing different lists – so I assume that’s how she got into our system.

You say in your email to Steve that you, “sent this to Halperin.”  Who or what is Halperin?  If you would like to call me or email me and provide your daughter’s name – I will make sure that she is deleted from our database .


Eric S. Juhlin

Chief Executive Officer

Center for Excellence In Higher Education

4021 South 700 East, Suite 400

Salt Lake City, UT 84107


From: Raul Valdes Pages

Sent: Friday, June 27, 2014 9:40 AM
To: ‘Eric Juhlin’
Cc: Steve Friedheim
Subject: RE: Fwd:

Eric, I called the Denver office of College America and spoke with reception office. The previous two post cards told her she had received a Scholarship. I told reception to pass along to College Director, who was not available, that I believed post card was misleading , that I thought practice should stop and my daughter’s name should be removed from mailing list (she has not lived at my address for ten years).

The card I received yesterday altered Scholarship language to encourage to apply as opposed to “you have received”. The “come on” is still the Scholarship and if I was still on ACCSC Commission I would have real problems with this attempt to recruit using Scholarships. ACCSC I believe still bans such practice. I am intrigued that she keeps getting Direct Mail. Are you buying “Hispanic” women? Not sure how her name would make it to mailing list and I have vast experience with them at DeVry.

… Asides from removing her name, I hope College America stops using Scholarships as “bait” to recruit Students. David Halperin is blogger for Huffington and a lawyer. Your company is not the only one pushing the envelope with “Scholarships” and I wanted to provide the practice with sunlight. Students, in my opinion, should go to College to better themselves and not because of Financial inducements such as Scholarships or living expenses from Loans. Thanks for your prompt response.



This article also appears on Huffington Post

  • Sherrie Steckler

    As a former College America student in Colorado Springs, I can attest to the fact that the college here admitted anyone and everyone. Business students and medical students were provided with a mandatory dress code to follow and when the administration was questioned regarding the lack of enforcement, the response was “should we not admit students because they cannot afford the proper attire?” When questioned regarding students who were allowed to remain enrolled when the prescribed number of days absence were exceeded, the administration replied “they’re good students and can make up the missed work.” However, when my husband died, I was told to keep up my work even on my 3-day bereavement absence. As an older student (58), many of my management classes resulted in my being told “you could teach this class” and just prior to graduation when I was required to take a course on resume preparation and job interviewing, I was told that it was a required course and not all students had my level of experience, so I would be required to take the course as well and no substitutions would be done. Just one of the classes I was required to take that added money to my student loans. I graduated with 100% attendance and a 4.0 GPA, and was employed at the time. However, since that job being eliminated, I have applied for many and when questioned regarding my degree, I’ve been smirked at and suffered many raised eyebrows as if all my hard work was for nothing because of the school issuing the degree. I now owe $40K in student loans and am unemployed, drawing Social Security. Hopefully, the unethical practices prevalent at this school will be stopped and more students will not be impacted.

  • Sherrie Steckler

    This is my youngest daughter’s response to reading the article. “It’s about time somebody looked into what the people at this school do. My mother, my sister (2 degrees) and I all received degrees from College America through the Colorado Springs campus. My Mom is unemployed, my sister who has a B.S. in Accounting is working as an Office Manager, and I (A.S. degree in Business Management & Accounting) am working retail as the manager of a mini-mart. All of us have healthy student loans, not to mention the amount of money we had to pay directly to the college itself. It’s time to stop the abuse of those who are trying to better themselves.”

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  • sixsigmamb

    In 2012-2013, I attended Stevens Henager
    College Online. During the admissions process, I came very close to
    withdrawing from the school on three different occasions due to repeatedly
    being subjected to numerous prevarications orated to me by my financial aid and
    admissions advisors.

    Due to the fact that I had been lied to on
    numerous occasions by my administrative and financial aid advisors, I called
    the Director of the College, Dr. Allan Hansen, and shared my concerns with
    him. He apologized numerous times to me
    about my experiences with said advisors and offered reasonable excuses, such as
    overworked, new to the college (not fully trained) and possible misunderstandings
    between my advisors and myself, which lead me to making a phenomenal and cost
    mistake of staying enrolled with the college.
    I have always been the kind of person who likes to see through the bad
    and find the good in people.

    From the first day of my attendance at
    Stevens Henager, it was extremely apparent to me that the education standards
    of the school were far below par of a local public college I had previously
    attended. For instance, the curriculum
    in the first three classes I attended, were severely outdated. Frankly, the course materials in my history
    and English classes, were very similar of classes I had taken in junior high
    school. When testing for my classes, I
    often found numerous webpages with both the test questions and answers for the
    tests in my courses; a further testament to how outdated the course materials I
    was being provided actually were.

    The catalyst or what some people may refer
    to as the proverbial ‘Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back’ with me was brought
    about in my third week of a four week class (all classes at Stevens Henager
    College are four week classes) by the college not being able to provide the
    required eBook for the course, though I and others in the class were charged
    for the same.

    During the above referenced class, I was
    actually contacted by my professor, Jennifer Sorrenson, on several
    occasions. Jennifer Sorrenson on
    numerous occasions conveyed complaints to me concerning her tenure at Stevens
    Henager College, which included complaints about her supervisors threating her
    employment if she did not give passing grades to certain students who were not
    turning in their assignments or doing anything more than logging in four times
    a week to the class. Jennifer Sorrenson, on one occasion informed me that three
    of her students in the class were homeless people, who did not have a computer
    to access the course.

    It is hard for student in the middle of
    school to drop out and find another school to attend. However, how can you reasonably justify
    staying with a program costing you $40,000.00 to obtain an associate’s degree,
    when your school isn’t providing you with the eBooks that are required to
    complete the course work? Many of my
    classmates simply adopted the attitude that they did not care about the school
    not providing the required eBooks for the courses, as long as the school gave
    them passing grades for their classes that would lead to them to obtaining
    there program diploma.

    When the school administration became
    aware that I was talking to other students, i.e., sharing my dissatisfaction about
    the school, I received a phone call one
    evening from their School Director, Dr. Allan Hansen. During our conversation, Dr. Hansen went in to
    what I refer to as a ‘song and dance’ routine, similar to our prior
    aforementioned conversation. I promptly
    told Dr. Hansen, that I would not be placated anymore to which he replied as

    “Why did you
    enroll at Stevens Henager College? You
    are not the type of student we normally enroll here. We are here to help economically disadvantaged
    people such as single mothers, young adults who dropped out of high school and
    people who are not prepared for attending schools with higher educational

    I believe that any reasonable person could
    understand how appalled I felt after listening to Dr. Hansen’s aforementioned
    diatribe and song and dance routine.

    The following day, I wrote about my
    experiences with Stevens Henager College on several college review and
    complaint sites. The same resulted in
    several calls from my admissions advisors and department heads at Stevens
    Henager College, where I was subjected to numerous threats of expulsion if I
    did not cease and desist in writing negative things about Stevens Henager.

    Several days later, I again received a
    phone call from Dr. Hansen. During our
    conversation, Dr. Hansen strongly suggest that I withdraw from admissions at
    Stevens Henager or face expulsion from the college. I basically laughed at his
    threat of expulsion and we agreed that upon my voluntary enrollment withdraw from
    the college, the following would occur:

    The cost of my English course
    which the school could not provide the required eBook for would be refunded to
    my school account.

    I would immediately return the
    laptop the school sent me at the start of enrollment.

    The School would not process
    any future grants or financial aid in my behalf

    I would not owe the college
    any money and the refund for the said course would be sent to me by check. (I never received a penny back from them.)

    Two months after I left the school, I
    received notice from the US Department of Education informing me that Stevens
    Henager College had withdrawn tuition for a second semester at Stevens Henager
    College. I contacted the school on
    several occasions notifying their financial aid department, that I was not
    attending a second semester with the school, that I was still waiting on the
    above referenced tuition refund and that I was no longer a student enrolled
    with the college.

    Numerous financial aid representatives for
    the college, including their Director of Finance, David Roberts, assured me
    that the school had withdrawn the money in error and would promptly return it,
    but until I paid an attorney to contact my student loan servicing company and
    the US Department of Education, Stevens Henager, Inc. held on to my student
    loan and Pell Grant money.

    Recently I was contacted by a bill
    collector demanding that I pay their collection agency over $2,000.00 due to my
    allegedly owing Stevens Henager College approximately $1,700.00 for tuition and
    a cost of the laptop I had returned to them.

    Frustrated and angry, I contacted an
    attorney suing the school for other issues, including fraud and illegal
    recruiting activities, explaining to the attorney my experiences with the
    administration and my attendance at the college.

    A few days later, I received a call from
    the Chief Executive Officer for The Center for Excellence in Higher Education,
    Inc. (aka Stevens Henager, Inc.) Eric
    Juhlin. During our phone conversation (June 12, 2015), I explained my aforementioned
    complaints and concerns to Mr. Juhlin concerning his organization. At that time Mr. Juhlin, (who has a colorful
    history of owning, administering and or operating diploma mill schools) gave me
    his word that he would erase my balance with Stevens Henager College and cut me
    a check for the tuition of my aforementioned English course, as previously
    agreed upon by Dr. Hansen and myself.

    On June 16th, 2015, Eric Juhlin
    called me and informed me that the school charged by semester so he could not
    refund my tuition money for the aforementioned course due to it being part of
    my first semesters tuition. He further
    stated that they had no record of receiving the laptop I had returned to them
    but he would zero out my account with them in consideration of my not
    furnishing the US Attorney and the litigants suing his organization, with
    documentary or testimonial evidence, damaging to his organization. I laughed as I hung up on him.

    I would advise anyone who is considering
    attending any university or college owned by The Center for Excellence in
    Higher Education (Independence University, College America, Stevens Henager
    College and The California College of San Diego) to reconsider enrolling with
    these scumbags. If you are a previous
    student of any of the aforementioned schools, you would be well advised to
    contact your own attorney, the US Department of Education and or the US
    Attorney Generals office for Utah. Those
    wishing to join a class action suit against these scumbag ripoff artists,
    please contact William Lucas at [email protected]

    If you don’t believe what I have conveyed
    to you in this post and or want to consider further information concerning the
    crooks who run The Center For Excellence in Higher Education, please visit the following web pages for more

    For-Profit College Changes Tax Status, But Not Necessarily Its


    Fox News: EXCLUSIVE: Whistleblowers in Stevens-Henager College lawsuit speak out


    Complaints Board: They are a Scam


    Violations of Abuse of Confidential Student Financial and Personal
    Information – Ripoff Report:


    First Things First. The Truth About Independence University, Formerly Stevens Henager College


    There are literally thousands of complaints by both employees and current / former students of Stevens Henager. Please use your favorite search information to read more about the scumbags who run The Center for Excellence in Higher Education.