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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I have just spent 61K on my education here at the Culinary

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I have just spent 61K on my education here at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, CA. After getting consent to go on a work trip to the BVI's, I embarked on my journey. When I found out I would not be able to return for the start of the class, I emailed my instructors and told them the situation. They are now trying to charge me $2,589.00 for the class when I should have been withdrawn and only paid my $50.00 enrollment fee. Not only that but they are threatening me with not being able to graduate at all after they told me I could still walk even if I had a balance. I am in serious financial pressure and now the stress of the loan with no degree. They have clearly violated a code of ethics here, what are some options.

You say that you received consent to take this work trip. Is there anyone who can corroborate your having received consent from the school's administration?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes. It was stated that I needed to be back by a certain day. When I was not going to be able to make it back due to a situation in Tortola, I emailed them that I would not be able to make it back. That was the notice that I gave. So instead of being instructed to withdraw, I was under the impression that the situation would be able to be resolved. Obviously I was wrong.

You can thoroughly document your circumstances to the school, and then ask for a waiver of the additional fees. If you are refused, then you could return, enroll again -- and if you are refused enrollment unless you pay the additional fees, you could sue for intentional or negligent misrepresentation, based upon the position that you were misinformed about your options which have caused you damages in exactly the amount of the unpaid fees.

This is a small claims court matter. Upon your return, I would make an appointment with the Dean (or whomever is the head administrator), and try to explain things in person.

I've had difficulties with culinary schools before. They are frequently running on a shoestring budget -- and lost revenue can be fatal to running the school. However, if you are trying to re-enroll and they see that more money may be coming their way, you may be able to reach a settlement on the previous fees for a reduced amount, plus your new enrollment.

That's probably the best way to approach the situation, because you want to try to get the Dean to see that both sides have some blame in this situation.

I realize that you may not feel that it's your fault, but were I a judge, considering the matter, I can see both sides, and that means that if you sue, the real judge in your case may also see two sides -- which could mean that court action may not turn out in your favor.

It's a bit of a coin toss at this point.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
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