Another California Coast University Story

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Education Lover, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. Education Lover

    Education Lover New Member

    Greetings All,

    I haven't been a student with California Coast University (CCU) for that long, and while I'm getting a lot out of it, recently I came across an irk that I never knew about and thought others in my situation should know.

    CCU advertises as self paced, a great thing and more often aimed at those (in my opinion) who may not have enough time to complete courses within a set schedule, I'm the complete opposite. I've been sacrificing hours of family time after work, taking leave each week to study more, and have completely shelved my hobbies social life.

    Knowing that I wouldn't be held back by a fixed timeframe and that I could pay an initial $500, then $100 monthly, I was sold. Knowing that I could pay monthly and go as fast as my brain would allow me, I reached the golden halfway point.

    Now when working on my first degrees, normally the halfway point was boiling point for me, I'd get grumpy and wanted it to be over, I didn't see it as downhill. This time however I had earned enough credits to apply for a position TWO pay grades at the above and a course to rise 7 pay grades higher overall, all I had to do was apply, and attach my resume and my unofficial transcripts. No problem I thought, but then I came crashing back down to earth.

    You see, CCU doesn't give (or let students purchase) unofficial transcripts, only official transcripts. I was told that I can print my "Degree Plan" to provide to a potential employer for proof. When replying that I doubt a potential employer, least of all the government will accept a "Degree Plan" pdf that doesn't come from a .edu website and the degree plan doesn't say which program I'm enrolled in, I was informed that I would have to pay for all courses that I have completed to get an "official transcript". My jaw dropped! I was then told that CCU could provide a letter to any potential employer stating that I'm enrolled in my program, but they couldn't tell them how many credits I have, hmm.

    The repayment options are GREAT, as are the books you learn from, but if you need to prove class completions for a job, don't count on being able to prove via an unofficial transcript unless you have paid all the courses in full.

    On another note... As I've taken similar loan options from previous education institutions, I didn't get too much into the CCU catalog, but after learning that I must pay X amount to get proof, I dived further into the catalog. What I learned was that one won't even get their degree until the entire balance is paid off. So while the $100 monthly payments sounds great, unless you're saving the additional X amount each course, you won't have earned anything until the entire program is paid off (wish I had of read that, I was planning to pay more with the potential added income).

    CCU really is a great NA institution for the motivated, and has great service representatives, but I really wish the catalog would have said that one couldn't get an unofficial transcript, otherwise I may have gone to another university with a fixed course timeline in which I would have saved for the following course within that learning period.

    On a $9,000 program where one pays $500 up front leaves $8,500.

    $8,500 balance minus $100 per month = 85 months.

    85 months/ 12 months = 7.08 years repayment.

    So even if one finishes in 1 year, they'll have to wait another 6 years (while paying) to receive their earned degree. Maybe should have had that on the tuition webpage.

    Read all catalog pages from any institution before diving in head first, something's are too good to be true. Time for me to throttle back on my education until I've paid for my completed courses so I can hopefully gain entrance to a higher paying job with the credits I have.

    Smart marketing on CCU's part (they know what they're doing), very upset that CCU didn't say that they don't provide unofficial transcripts (especially in the enrollment agreement and catalog), but overall I guess its my own fault for expecting they would provide unofficial transcripts. Yep, I was caught on a hook.
  2. mgrowc1

    mgrowc1 New Member

    Hate to say it but I am pretty sure every school is like that. No one will fulfill a transcript request with any balance on your account. I know this because I just requested transcripts from undergrad and grad. Both on campus (LSU) but state they will not fulfill if a balance. I was on scholarship for my undergrad and loans for my MBA so as far as they are concerned it is zero because I owe the government so its all good but I can unfortunately see why they would not give you the transcript.

  3. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    It is normal for a university to withhold transcripts and/or the degree itself until one pays one's bills in full. Really. This is not unusual.

    Unfortunately, CCU seems to be pulling people in with that low monthly payment stuff. Also, since you pay for an entire degree and not credit-by-credit, you can't get a transcript along the way (since "paid up" and "paid in full" are the same thing).

    At regionally accredited schools this isn't as much of a problem since most students get student aid (usually in the form of student loans) to pay the school. Their debts are to the lenders, not the schools (who've been paid), giving a clear pathway to graduation and transcript issuance.

    My advice: finish as quickly as you can. Get a second job or other form of income to pay for this. If you take home (net) $10 per hour for 15 hours per week, you'd have accumulated $7,500 or so, more than enough to pay these guys and to get on with your career. Just a thought. Yes, you'd be working full-time, working part-time, studying at a difficult rate, and balancing the rest of your life, but you'd get it done.
  4. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    Would university notification of grade for each completed course be considered a sufficient substitute for transcripts? They must have sent you some sort of "report card" for each course.
  5. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

    I can't believe the price tag. I completed a BS and MBA from CCU for something like $3,500. It was structured that I paid by the class for my undergrad degree but the way it worked was as if the undergrad was $3,500 and then the MBA was "pre-paid". It is normal to withhold the degree until the payments are made.
  6. Education Lover

    Education Lover New Member

    Thank you all for your replies.

    For Mcgroc1, I beg to differ! For my previous institutions, I've always received non official transcripts as part of the program whenever I've requested it, its the official transcripts I have to be in good standing to receive. Heck, I'm still paying for my RA BA, and in order to get into the Masters Program with CCU I had to request an official transcript to be mailed from my BA institution, which they provided once I paid the fee. Thank you for your reply.

    To Rich Douglas, I'm not talking about official transcripts, I'm speaking about unofficial transcripts, something I'm used to being able to print from the student portal. I agree with most of your post though, CCU pulled me in, however had I known that I wouldn't even be able to get an unofficial transcript, I wouldn't have enrolled as I would have studied at a traditional university (not necessarily a brick and mortar) as I could have saved during the class rather than when I wanted an unofficial transcript, only to be told no, not until you pay up, so to say.

    I will be doing as you said, I will be paying up though as quick as possible. All institutions I've looked up while looking for an MBA program specifically say if no "unofficial transcript" will be offered, I guess I expected the same. Thank you for your reply.

    For Kizmet, I receive notification for the unit exams, final exam, the week(s) later a review of my written exam. Although they say "official grade", its really not something I want to add to my application when an unofficial transcript is requested. But I see your point, thank you.

    @Randell, you can't believe the price tag? I'm not sure when you completed your degrees, but times have changed. I completed my BA from an RA, and earlier when I looked back at the CCU website, it stated that BA graduates would only receive a 10% discount, so I'm not sure how you received a BA and MBA for "$3,500", but power to you! Also, you said it's not uncommon to withhold a degree until all is paid and done, that's not my concern, my concern is that unofficial transcripts are not given, not is it stated in the catalog that they're not. While I have learned a lot from reading the book (never been one for the class room myself), I would have saved money while completing courses had the advertising website added "we do not issue unofficial transcripts, and until all courses have been paid in full you will not get an official transcript". Does that make sense? Thank you for your reply.

    To all, I'm not talking bad about the education of CCU, I like the books! My dislike is that I was duped into something without it being specifically expressed what they do not do. And that is what I'm trying to point to others incase they think "$100 a month, no problem, I'll potentially be able to earn more once I have the knowledge and credit to prove I know what I know".
  7. RAM PhD

    RAM PhD Member

    While you may feel that way, I'm not sure you were duped (which implies some level of intentionality on the part of CCU). It is common practice among academic institutions to hold a student's diploma and transcripts (official, unofficial, semi-official, quasi-official, etc) until all fees are paid in full.
  8. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Let me see if I have this straight.

    Let's say I enroll in the BBA program at CCU. The BBA program is 126 semester units, and undergraduate tuition is $150/unit. So the total tuition for the BBA is $18,900.

    CCU offers three tuition plans. Option C is to pay the $18,900 up front, but that may not be practical for many people. So let's look at the installment options. Option A is to pay $500 up front, then $100/month towards the balance after that, with no interest. Option B is to pay $300 up front, then $125/month after that, again with no interest.

    If we go with Option A, then we pay $500 up front, and pay the remaining $18,400 at $100/month. It will be paid off in 184 months, or 15.3 years.
    If we go with Option B, then we pay $300 up front, and pay the remaining $18,600 at $125/month. It will be paid off in 149 months, or 12.4 years.

    So if you opt for a BBA on the installment plan as promoted by CCU (and CCU features the $100/month plan prominently on its home page), the expected time needed to pay for the degree is 12-15 years. Is my math correct ?

    If so, then doesn't that seem like a rather long time to wait for a transcript ?

    And if so, then shouldn't CCU disclose this significant limitation when promoting its installment plans ?
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2013
  9. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

    I completed the BS in 2001 and MBA in 2003 which was before accreditation. They used to have combo options BS/MBA and MBA/PhD options.
  10. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    If that's the scenario, then if I were in charge, yes, I'd feel obligated to disclose such a limitation.
  11. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    It's true that schools will withhold transcripts or a degree, if a student's account is in arrears. This would apply if the student made a commitment to pay X dollars by date Y, and then reneged on that commitment.

    But there is a difference between "owing money" and being "in arrears". In this case, both the school and the student agreed on payment via a long-term installment plan (in fact, the school actively promotes this plan). And the student is meeting his end of the deal. Assuming that he is up to date with his monthly payments, then he has not reneged on any financial commitment, and he is not in arrears. The student should not be penalized in this situation.

    This is not the way that expensive purchases are normally financed. Suppose you buy a car with a 3-year loan. Do you have to make all the payments first, so it takes 3 years before you can drive the car ? If you buy a house with a 30-year mortgage, do you have to make payments for 30 years before you can move in ? That's basically the kind of "offer" that CCU is making here.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2013
  12. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Not with universities. If you have an outstanding balance, you don't get transcripts and you don't get your degree. Doesn't matter if you're on-time or in arrears.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2013
  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    You don't own either item until they're paid off. That puts some restrictions on your rights regarding these assets until you do own them.

    If CCU followed a model where they allowed their graduates to "use" their degrees before they're finished paying them, they'd also have to be in the "repo" business, going after those who fail to pay. Revocation of a degree is a serious matter. I doubt seriously CCU or any other school would want to do that routinely.

    But I also agree that, given that CCU offers payment plans that extend far beyond one's typical time in the program, they should disclose the ramifications. It's just good customer service.

    Of course, they could act like most universities and charge by the credit (their website gives the per-credit charges, but then says, "Students are not permitted to enroll in a single course at this time."), but then they wouldn't get all that money up front, which is what this is really all about.

    As a military commander, I was in the position of counseling young troops all the time about entering into debt. It's been my observation that most rent-to-own operations, for example, are about lending the money, not selling the product. Same with most shopping mall jewelers. It's about giving you credit, not selling crappy jewelry. Sears used to operate on this principle--their credit business was so huge they eventually moved it beyond Sears by creating the Discover Card. (In fact, during the early 1980's, Sears decided it was no longer in the retail business, but instead was in the money business. They acquired AllState insurance, Coldwell Banker real estate, created the Discover Card, etc. They moved away from this when Wal-Mart began crushing them in their REAL core business, which was still retail.)

    I wouldn't be surprised if CCU's model is utterly dependent on issuing credit. No, they don't charge interest. But they charge late fees.

    BTW, if one follows the plan to put down $300 and pay $125 monthly, it would take almost 12 years to pay off a doctorate. Paging Theodore Streleski....
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2013
  14. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Lots of schools have "deferred payment plans". And as long as you make the required payments on time, you are in good standing. You don't get in trouble until you start missing payments. Here's an example, from North Seattle Community College:

    The whole point of a deferred tuition payment plan is that you have an outstanding balance. There would be no point in offering such a program if it automatically ruined your standing with the school.
  15. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member

    I can't speak on what other schools do, but at my present university, as well as my former community college, if you were on an approved payment arrangement, you received transcripts.

  16. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    Unless I missed something it looks like you could buy an official transcript - then why not go that route - isn't it worth a few dollars to advance in your career?
  17. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Maybe you missed this:

    The student enrolled in a Master's program at CCU, which costs about $9,000. He selected CCU's Option A payment plan: $500 down, then $100/month installments. Do the math: it will take about 7.1 years to pay for the degree under that plan.

    He is about halfway through the program, which presumably represents about half the total tuition, or about $4,500. Let's assume he has been in the program for a year. In that case, he has paid $500 plus 11 monthly payments of $100, or $1,600, as per CCU's payment Option A.

    But CCU says that his Option A payments aren't enough -- he has to pay in full for all completed courses before they will issue an official transcript. So he will need to find an additional $2,900 to "catch up" with the $4,500 tuition that he has been charged. Only then will they issue a transcript.

    Seems like a pretty expensive transcript. More than "a few dollars".
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2013
  18. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    I heard that a lot of times people once complete the degree program charge the remaining balance to credit card.
    They are paying interest on the loan but a lot of times its a new card with promotion low apr so they transfer balance etc.

    Usually degree conferred when all requirements, including financial are met.

    St to the transcript, CCU states the cost for each credit :

    Associate (Undergraduate) Tuition
    $150.00 per unit

    Bachelor (Undergraduate) Tuition
    $150.00 per unit

    Master (Graduate) Tuition
    $230.00 per unit

    Doctoral Tuition

    $290.00 per unit

    So if one completed the classes for credit and want to capitalize on it they should pay for the credit they completed just like for the degree.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2013
  19. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Right. But you still won't graduate without paying them in full.
  20. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    True. But that's not the issue here. Most of us (including me) would probably agree that any school (including CCU) has the right to withhold transcripts or degrees from students who haven't paid their bills.

    The issue is whether CCU should market those attractive monthly payment plans without disclosing that they will delay transcript or degree receipt for many years -- potentially much longer than the expected duration of the degree program. And most of us would probably agree that this is a questionable business practice.

    CCU's home page boasts "PAYMENT PLAN -- $100 A MONTH -- EARN YOUR DEGREE INTEREST FREE". If there was an associated asterisk or disclaimer, saying something like "Note: selection of the monthly payment option may delay transcript/degree receipt by 7 to 15 years, depending on the degree program and payment plan", then I wouldn't have a problem with it. But for some reason, CCU's descriptions of their payment plans omit that information. Yet this is information that many students, including the OP, would find quite relevant.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2013

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