I’ve fielded several calls from prospective clients all telling a similar story. Wooed with promises of obtaining a new and profitable career, they signed up for classes at one of the many training centers that have popped up all over Florida. These are the centers that promise to award you with either a certificate or prepare you to take an examination to obtain some type of technical license. They can range from certificates in electrical or mechanical fields to occupations in the medical profession. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a pattern where these schools are more interested in getting your money than providing you the ability to better yourself.In the last week alone I spoke to two people who had a similar experience. Trying to get back on their feet, they visited a training school. Both were interested in obtaining a certificate to work in the medical field here in Florida. Both had a past criminal conviction which they disclosed to the admissions officer. When asked if their past conviction would present a problem, both were emphatically told no. They then enrolled and took student loans which ranged from $25,000.00 to over $40,000.00. After graduating from the program they applied to the applicable state certification board, only to be told that their criminal convictions rendered them ineligible to obtain a certificate. Tens of thousands of dollars later, these people can’t get that high-paying job they were promised. In order to protect yourself, here are some tips:
- Make sure the school you are thinking about enrolling is legitimate and is qualified to award you whatever degree or certification you want to pursue;
- When speaking to any school representative, get names, titles and write down when and where you spoke to them;
- Take notes and write down as accurately as possible what information they provide to you;
- Ask them if there is any written documentation detailing what they are telling you. If not, ask them to put it in writing;
- Follow-up your meeting/conversation with a confirmatory letter to that person, setting forth what was represented to you;
- Finally, do your own homework. Call any licensing boards or agencies yourself before you enroll and speak to them directly. Ask about what is required to obtain a certification and any issues that may make you ineligible, like a criminal infraction or outstanding child support obligations.
These simple steps could save you a lot of unnecessary time, aggravation, and money.Richard Asselta is a Florida education and school law attorney and the founder of Asselta Law, PA. The firm is located in Broward County, Florida and concentrates on Education and School Law. Mr. Asselta is a former attorney for a large public school district. He draws upon the knowledge gained from the other side of the table to work with teachers and students on legal issues in all educational settings throughout the state of Florida. If you are faced with an Education and School Law issue, contact us today for a free consultation to find out how we can help.