Monday, January 17, 2011

Tom Fuentes and Stanbridge College (a local for-profit)

Stanbridge: among those soulless structures near the airport
     I am endlessly asking myself the question, just what does Tom Fuentes do for a living? He consults. Sometimes, he's a "senior vice president," but when you ask what that is, it turns out to be nothing. Or so he says.
     No doubt some of you think that I’m obsessed with the fellow. I don’t think so. Tom and his obscure sources of income symbolize what is wrong with government and the political scene in our benighted county—the only large county in the state that does not regulate lobbyists. By understanding Tom—and what the fellow does—one perhaps understands that dark and twisted thing that is “the OC”—politically, anyway.
     Among the more prominent sources of income that pop up on Trustee Tom Fuentes’ “statements of economic interest” is Stanbridge College, for which he is (or until recently has been) a “consultant.”
     Gosh, I wonder what that means? Is he lobbying for Stanbridge? If so, how so? Does he tell ‘em what to do? If so, what about? Being told that Tom "consults" for Stanbridge is a bit like being told that he "does stuff" for 'em. How are we supposed to know whether there are any conflicts of interest and such?
     In recent years (at least four of them, I believe), Fuentes has checked the $10-100K box on those forms re Stanbridge. That means that, for those four years, Stanbridge paid him between $40,000 and $400,000. Right? That's a lot of money (Fuentes does lots of other "consulting.") I wonder if he puts in more than 15 hours a week for the college? Does he get summers off? (And does it bother him that Stanbridge competes with Saddleback College?)
* * *
     I decided to take a quick look at that institution, a small two-year for-profit, located across the street from John Wayne Airport (and along the 405).
     From what I can gather reading the available online profiles of the college, it is not religiously affiliated, and it specializes in Associates degrees.
     It’s small. Enrollments are variously reported from the low 100s (121) to the mid 200s (250). The figure includes full- and part-time students.
     Among its programs are nursing, computer and info systems, security, and accounting. But nursing seems to be its bread and butter.
     Near as I can tell, Stanbridge in some sense offers an LVN (licensed vocational nurse) degree, which is the most basic nursing degree. (I do believe that graduates need to pass a test to actually work in the state as an LVN. The situation is somewhat like that for attorneys: graduation from law school does not ipso facto qualify one to work as an attorney; one must still pass the bar exam.)
     Saddleback College also offers an LVN. There, it’s pretty cheap. At Stanbridge? Not so much.
     One profile provides detailed data regarding costs at Stanbridge. states that tuition for the LVN is $27,995.
Pricey "consultant"
     There is a chart with “Student Expenses for the Largest Program Offered: Licensed Practical Nurse.” It says that the total cost for attending Stanbridge (in that program), if one lives off campus “with family” (the college has no dorms) is about $40,000. Otherwise, the cost is nearly $90,000 ($87,995). (These figures are for 2008-9.)
     According to, the “Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid [is] 100%.”
     For 2006-7 (no more recent data are available), the average amount of aid per student was as follows:

     Loan: $13,752
     Federal grant: $1,574
     Institutional grant: $3,160

     7.6% of students who took federal loans defaulted (2007). That sounds pretty low.
     Two-thirds of Stanbridge students are over 25.
     Gosh. Is Stanbridge one of those nasty for-profits that’s taking students to the cleaners—and taking taxpayers there, too? Not sure.
     Stanbridge seems to be tiny. How can it afford to pay Mr. Fuentes so much, year after year? I’m no good with business questions. Perhaps readers could weigh in.
     And what about the cost of getting one’s degree via Stanbridge? Surely some of our readers have something to say about that!
     At the site, only one “review” is provided. Just one. Here it is:
This school sucks. I would not recommend it to anyone. Most of the teachers suck. All the nurses treat you like you are in the military. Nursing schools should change regarding how they treat their students. Back in the day it was cheap to go to school, now we pay what 30000 to get a crappy education experience. I am the customer, and I am paying you. We should be making the rules. Well enough of this stupid school, and on to telling you what you should do. Never go to LVN school if you really want to be an RN. It is just a waist of time. No jobs out there that you really want in SoCal. The pay sucks next to an RN. This is what you do. Get a job in the hospital doing whatever. ... If I would do it all over again, I would have gotten my CNA and phlebotomy certs, get a crappy job for 6 months to a year and get into a hospital. And get a job in a hospital that pays for your school. I recently got 3 job offers at 3 different hospitals, as a CNA and PCT getting paid more than a LVN would in a hospital. Because the hospitals i work at dont hire LVN and they pay more. I would work as a CNA or PCT and go to school on the hospitals budget to be a RN. They send you to school and if your lucky they make you sign a contract for you to promise to work there for 2 to 5 years. Hell yes. Get my education paid for and I get a job when I graduate. Yes. This is the way to go. Don't listen to all these private schools and economy job markets. All job markets are bad. RN is your best bet. Not LVN. Go straight for your RN. Hell get a BA in something else and do the fast track BSN program at a university or state college. Only take 12 to 17 months....
     Naturally, this review might be all sour grapes and its advice might be crap. Dunno.


Anonymous said...

He's a gangster, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

This school has been covering up crimes and abuse of students for years. They fail you on purpose so they make more money. Military run is an understatement. When students complain about what is being done, then the administration makes it worse for the student. Constant changing of class rooms, teachers give contradictory information to students and set them up for failure. Many racist remarks were made in class. Teachers act like children and tease students instead of doing a good job of teaching. Stanbridge is really "Scambridge." They manipulate many students out of money. Many violations of personal privacy and use of Military intimidation tactics. This place needs to be shut down!

Anonymous said...

SCAMBRIDGE is a way better name. The school gave me a loan and told me to keep track of the balance myself on paper. At the time I was only allowed to pay with cash or check! I had many questions unanswered and they absolutely made it worse for me. The administration treated like I was a idiot. I was bullied and disrespected by SCAMBRIDGE. I currently have no clue what to do because I am confident they are doing illegal this to people just trying to get ahead in life. I feel I need a lawyer but I cant afford one.


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