In New York, the scandalous ASA College was finally closed, but its management is blackmailing students
Edwin Rodriguez, 30, moved to New York from Columbia to pursue his American dream of going to college and getting a good job. He chose the immigrant-oriented ASA College for this and failed. This private educational institution, founded by a Russian-speaking immigrant, has long had a bad reputation, and at the end of February it closed altogether - it was deprived of its license due to violations. Now Rodriguez was left with debts of thousands of dollars and no diploma. But that's not all - ASA College requires money from him for an extract from the courses he took, writes Documented.
“I feel like I lost two years of my life,” laments Rodriguez, who entered ASA College in 2020.
Two weeks ago, he received a letter from the college to close. Therefore, the man contacted the administration and demanded to reimburse him for the cost of studying for the last semester ($ 1800) and provide him with an academic transcript. ASA College's answer was unexpected: instead of returning the money, the administrators of the institution said that Rodriguez would have to pay $ 5000 - the remainder of the cost of his full education. If he does not pay this money, he will not be issued an extract.
Rodriguez refused because he sees no point in paying for tuition at a college that is now closed, and besides, his diplomas are not respected.
In November 2022, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) revoked accreditation AS College. The establishment has faced a slew of legal challenges over the past few years, including allegations of fraud and sexual harassment against its management and employees.
The decision of the Middle States Commission dated November 11 states that ASA College, whose campuses are located in Brooklyn and Manhattan, failed to provide students with a quality education, failed to pay salaries to employees on time, and also failed to prove its ability to fulfill its obligations.
ASA College's accreditation officially expired on March 1, 2023, the same day its New York State license was revoked.
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Jessica Ranucci, special litigation coordinator at New York Legal Assistance Group, said more than 100 ASA students have contacted them for legal assistance. Many of them, like Rodriguez, complain that they are being asked to pay for academic transcripts.
International students are especially vulnerable because their immigration status is tied to education, Ranucci said. Federal regulations require undergraduate students with F-1 and J-1 visas to receive at least 12 credits each semester. If they receive less, it may result in their visa being cancelled.
In the event of a sudden college closure, as in the case of ASA College, international students must file their transcripts with the new institution as soon as possible if they wish to remain legally in the US. Any delay could jeopardize their status.
Most international students are not eligible for federal student loans, so Rodriguez paid ASA College out of his own pocket. As of 2020, he has paid $30 in tuition. When he heard the news about the closure and saw that he also had to pay for discharge, he had a panic attack. Rodriguez even spent a week in the hospital.
The closure of ASA College was the culmination of years of college problems that began as early as 2006.
On February 10, 2023, MSCHE found that the college did not notify students of the closure, provide them with financial aid advice, publish their transcripts, or assist them with transfers to other institutions.
New York City Legal Aid Group has opened a free hotline for ASA College students. If you need legal advice or assistance, call 212-659-6166 or email ASAHotline@nylag.org.
For what violations ASA College was closed
In October 2022, the Department of Consumer Protection (DCWP) discovered that ASA College was lying in its commercial. It said the college would help low-income immigrant students stay in the US, as well as provide them with $4000 to $8000 worth of "gifts" upon graduation. The college was forced to pay $112 in civil penalties.
Jessica Ranucci says that over ten ASA College students have approached them over the past few years. They needed help with their student loan debt from college. Many of them are international students who were deceived by ASA College's dishonest advertising.
According to Ranucci, ASA College's marketing strategy is clearly aimed at defrauding vulnerable students coming to the US from other countries. The college itself profited from this, because students paid for their education in advance by taking out a loan or receiving assistance from a federal or local loan program.
Dictatorship of Alex Shchegol
The former ASA leader spoke about internal conflicts in the college. According to Migen Rockenbach, former director of digital marketing at ASA College, owner and former president of the college, Alex Slick, secretly controlled the day-to-day operations of the institution despite his resignation due to a sexual harassment scandal.
The dandy was fired in 2019 after at least 10 women accused him of sexual harassment and rape. Then, in 2021, the Goldfinch briefly regained control of the college and fired the entire board of directors, but resigned again in January 2022.
Rockenbach claims that while Goldfinch did not hold an official position at ASA College, he continued to influence marketing and other aspects of the college's operations. Despite problems and fines due to deceptive advertising, according to Rockenbach, the Goldfinch wanted to re-run ads that the DCWP deemed illegal.
“He wanted me to post this ad on Facebook while the investigation was ongoing, but I refused,” she admitted. “He didn’t understand what the problem was.”