Good afternoon. My name is Jonelle Daugherty, and I am a Navy reservist.
I started pursuing a PhD in Sports and Performance Psychology in 2014 at University of the Rockies. In 2018, University of the Rockies became part of Ashford University, which recently became University of Arizona Global Campus.
I told the recruiter that I already used most of my GI Bill for my bachelor’s and master’s degree. With that knowledge, the school promised me that they would provide Yellow Ribbon and other funding to make up for any shortfall after my GI Bill was used up. This promise played a significant role in my decision to go to University of the Rockies because I was concerned about financing my PhD.
As it turned out, my GI Bill only covered two classes. Contrary to their initial promise, the school has refused to provide the additional funding, and I had to take out student loans to continue my education.
Although the school told me they would provide all necessary resources for my dissertation, they have fallen short in every possible way. My school has not provided feedback on my writing, and instead, told me to hire a professional editor to review my work. Besides having access to the school library, I am practically left on my own to work on my dissertation.
My program requires me to fly to Colorado for in-residence programs every year. I have attended the program three times so far and each trip costs a thousand dollars, which I paid out of pocket. Since this Colorado program is necessary for my degree, I had naturally believed it would be covered by whatever funding the school initially promised me.
My ability to make progress towards my degree is also thwarted by a constant change of dissertation advisors. Each time my advisor has changed, I was instructed to start my dissertation completely from scratch. I have been in this PhD program for almost eight years with no progress to show for it. Nevertheless, the school has always pushed me to keep up with the program, despite providing none of the resources I need. I was also promised a military discount which I never saw. The school kept adding charges to my account and no one would give me an explanation because there is a constant turnover in staff at the school.
I currently have about 200,000 dollars in PLUS and graduate PLUS loans because of Ashford and UAGC. I feel like the school is keeping me in the program just to continue charging me tuition. Even though my school has changed names and corporate ownership twice since I started, the quality of instruction and disregard of student interests has never improved. I hope the Education Department will develop new rules to ensure that only schools with high-quality instructional practices are entitled to receive federal student aid funding.Revised Jonelle Daugherty January NegReg Testimony