American Commercial College students say they feel deceived

Published: Nov. 3, 2011 at 3:12 AM CDT|Updated: Dec. 15, 2014 at 1:23 AM CST
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American Commercial College students in Lubbock say they feel deceived after the campus was raided by federal agents early Wednesday morning. Several students claim the school's financial aid department forced them to hand over student loan money even after they had paid their tuition.

Federal agents working with the U.S. Department of Education were seen taking pictures and removing items from the Lubbock campus at 2007 34th St and the corporate office on 8206 Vicksburg Ave. A second ACC campus in Abilene was also raided by agents.

After seeing raid and hearing the school was shut down until further notice, several students began to wonder if they had been involved in a scam. "I kind of wondered why I had to pay so much money," said Cecilia Robledo.

Cecilia says each semester when the school received her student loan check they automatically withdrew the amount for her tuition, but in order to get the amount left over of the student loan she had to accompany an ACC staff member to the bank. "They made me go meet them at the City Bank off of 50th and Indiana to even get my money," said Robledo.

Once there Robledo says the ACC staff member made the bank teller hand over $250, even though her tuition was already paid. She was then given what was left of the money. When she asked why she had to pay an extra $250 each semester outside of her tuition she was told it was a payment to pay off her student loan. "This whole time I'm thinking that the money is going to pay the loan when really it wasn't and I got my paperwork in the mail from for the federal loan," she said.

She's not the only one. Cecilia Ramirez hasn't graduated from ACC yet, and says their financial aid office is already asking for money. "They told me that we had to pay back a certain amount, and that money would be transferred over to the loan department on our behalf, but it's my knowledge and experience with other schools that it's after we graduate when we should be able to submit a type of payment," said Ramirez.

It's a similar story but different excuse for ACC graduate Melissa Benitez.  "I just felt something fishy was going on," she said. "I didn't understand why I had to pay $250 out of the check that was mine."

Benitez says like Robledo each semester after her tuition was taken out of her student loan, she would have to go the bank with a staff member who took $250 in cash out of her check.

"When I went to the lady in the front office I asked her why I had to pay the $250 whenever they took out tuition already. This was supposed to be the remainder for me, and they told me it was because the school wasn't state funded, and it was for student responsibility," said Benitez.

KCBD NewsChannel 11 tried contacting the founder of the college but we didn't get a response. The U.S. Attorney General is investigating the school, but would not comment on why.

A note on the Lubbock campus says the school is closed until further notice, and students were told to call Thursday to see if classes resumed.

Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11.