Buyer Beware

Ultimate Medical Academy – A Shady and Fraudulent Institution

Courtesy of their official website, Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) is a non-profit institution that has been operating since 1994. Based in Tampa, Florida, Ultimate Medical Academy offers students the option of attending online courses for an associate degree (medical billing, healthcare accounting, healthcare management, health information management, health services, etc) or an on-site campus in Clearwater for a diploma in multiple fields such as patient care technician, medical assistant, phlebotomy assistant, and more. 

According to Ultimate Medical Academy, there are more than 10,000 students currently attending both their offline and online programs, with at least 69,000 alumni since the health academy was first established 28 years ago. 

Are They Non-Profit?

Ultimate Medical Academy

They have clearly stated that they are a non-profit healthcare educational institution with a mission to equip and empower students to excel in healthcare careers. While most applicants would not bother digging deeper to find out the truth behind UMA, we searched deeper into the history and ownership behind, and our findings show that UMA is not exactly an innocent non-profit institution they claimed themselves to be. 

As their official website stated, UMA was founded in 1994 as a non-profit healthcare educational institution. More than a decade after it was founded, UMA was acquired by UMA LLC (Limited Liability Company) in 2005. A lawsuit that was filed towards Ultimate Medical Academy showed that the school itself was a foreign limited liability company instead of a non-profit institution. 

UMA LLC was controlled by a New York-based group called the Conversion Group, which according to their website was a consulting and advisory group supporting the growth of companies in the educational sector. This information of course was never really disclosed by UMA which always took pride in being a non-profit educational institution. However, an IRS filing from 2014 clearly stated that they had the same Manhattan address as Conversion Group, again showing the reality behind this “non-profit institution”. 

Accordingly, there were numerous executives of UMA who also hold roles in Conversion Group, including Thomas Rametta who worked as the chief financial officer in Ultimate Medical Academy while simultaneously working under Conversion Group. Along with a few more executives, there was also Lowell Lifschultz who acted as the chairman of both UMA and Conversion Group before transitioning to a senior advisor role for Ultimate Medical Academy.

Conversion Group no longer exists as an entity. Back in March 2015, Ultimate Medical Academy was acquired by another organization in the Clinical And Patient Educators Association (CPEA). CPEA is a tax-exempt and non-profit organization that was based in Denver. It was established in 2010 with a mission of developing the quality of education for healthcare practitioners which will eventually benefit the communities they serve. 

Unlike when it was operating under the Conversion Group, UMA can now officially say that they are a non-profit institution. After all, CPEA only gained a total revenue of $33,508 and $384,000 in revenue in 2012 and 2013 respectively. However, this does raise a question when UMA managed to gross over $154 million of federal loans and student grants in the same academic year.  It is also worth mentioning that $154 million from loans and grants made up at least 87% percent of Ultimate Academy Revenue, which is suspiciously very close to the limit of 90% allowed for both profit and non-profit colleges. 

Before the takeover of Ultimate Medical Academy from the Conversion Group, their CEO Steven Kemler was holding a role as the CPEA’S vice president. This shows that the higher-ups behind UMA remain the same even after the transition to CPEA, especially with the fact that Lowell Lifschultz became the President of CPEA.  

As stated by a year form in 2013, both Steven Kemler and Lowell Lifschultz engaged in a business transaction that was valued at over $300,000, in which it was stated that CPEA was given 2 grants including one from Ultimate Medical Academy. As of now, both Kemler and Lifschultz are no longer listed as a member of the CPEA, but their names are somehow still listed on IRS forms as members who run the organizations in between periods, adding a lot more suspicions behind the truth of Ultimate Medical Academy.  

Relation With Trump University

Have you ever heard of Trump University? Trump University is a real estate educational institution that was permanently closed for getting involved in scams and fraudulent acts back in 2010. We are not here to discuss the controversy behind Trump University, but we will expose how for-profit and fake non-profit colleges scam thousands of students each semester in the following sections.

What if we tell you that a non-profit educational institution like the UMA has a tangled relationship with the scamming, profit-seeking institution in Trump University. While Ultimate Medical Academy tried its best to deny any relationship with Trump University, our findings clearly stated otherwise. 

Trump University only operated for 5 years from 2005-2010, but when it was operating with full capacity, the institution was able to profit millions of dollars with its fraudulent scheme. Now that Trump University is no longer operating, multiple people behind Trump University who knew how to profit from students’ tuition are working with Ultimate Medical Academy. 

David Highbloom, the co-chief executive officer at the UMA used to be the chief operating officer at Trump University. One of Trump University’s selling points was that every one of their instructors was hand-picked by Donald Trump himself. In reality, it was a lie, and instructors were picked by none other than the co-chief executive of UMA himself, David Highbloom. 

David Highbloom himself was involved in a lawsuit against Trump University, getting accused of using high-pressure coercive strategies to recruit more applicants for Trump University. Unsurprisingly, the reviews shown in multiple online platforms stated that UMA used the same tactics to attract and ultimately secure new students. 

They have received a lot of backlash for their relationship with Trump University. While they stated that only 3 out of hundreds of their workers have relation to Trump University, our findings stated that more workers are involved with Trump University, including Jason Schauer who used to work at the UMA online division, Ben Roberts (vice president and chief of staff at UMA) who was an intern at the Trump University, and more. 

Accreditation 

When you look into any educational institution, accreditations are one of the deciding factors to determine the quality and legitimacy of any institution. While the majority of people look at accreditation as a mere reflection of quality, it holds a much deeper role. The reason why colleges and other educational institutions always aim for good accreditation is not only to attract more applicants but also to qualify for tax-funded student aid. 

Trump University was never accredited, but it managed to gain profit from students who pay the tuition fee for themselves. After all, Trump University was known for its unreasonably high fee only affordable for students from high-income family backgrounds. On the other hand, UMA emphasizes itself as a friendly college that is open for government-funded financial aid. 

The reason why UMA qualifies for tax-funded student aid is that it is currently accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Educational Schools (ABHES). Additionally, UMA was named as a military-friendly school by Victory Media in 2016. While it does sound like a good reputation, the list itself contains numerous for-profit colleges that are involved in federal law investigations. 

In 2015, UMA switched sides and decided to get accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). However, this plan backfired as in the same year ACICS recognition was revoked due to its oversight of predatory colleges. Accordingly, this means that UMA is no longer eligible to receive government-funded student aid, which led them to switch back to ABHES accreditation until today.

How College Scams Works

After the passage above, you may wonder about the following questions: why did Ultimate Medical Company claim to be a non-profit when it is working under a profit-seeking group? How do colleges like UMA profit from government aid? Well, it is unfortunate that most people are still not aware of the truth behind college scams, but this is all a common scheme that many institutions (including Trump University and Ultimate Medical Academy) used to maximize profits from their students. 

As you can conclude from multiple reviews by students and alumni, Ultimate Medical Academy often uses high-pressure tactics to encourage potential students to sign up for their courses. This scheme involves a bait and switch tactic which is a very common tactic used by scammers in multiple industries. As its name suggests, the bait and switch tactic involves giving false hope and promises to potential students. In this case, Ultimate Medical Academy often promised their students job opportunities and qualifications when a lot of their graduates found themselves stuck with a student loan and not enough qualifications to work in the actual healthcare industry. 

As to why Ultimate Medical Academy tried very hard to remain as a non-profit entity, it is not only to attract and persuade potential students, but it is also an effort to evade tax and maximize profits from their revenues, which completely explain the business engagement between Steven Kemler and Lowell Lifschultz. 

We have also mentioned Ultimate Medical Academy grossing over $154 million from student loans and grants, the fact that it made up 87% (extremely close to the 90% limit allowed by the federal law) shows how Ultimate Medical Academy relies on tax-funded student aid to maximize revenues and profits. 

Student’s Testimonial

Regardless of the truth behind Ultimate Medical Academy, what potential students may find more important is whether or not Ultimate Medical Academy provides legitimate education for their students. After all, that is what they are paying for by enrolling in Ultimate Medical Academy. Just like most profit-seeking colleges, the quality of education is not a concern for the higher-ups in Ultimate Medical Academy, but you do not have to take our word for it. Instead, here are some of the reviews posted by their students on multiple online review platforms:

Ultimate Medical Academy review
Ultimate Medical Academy review
Ultimate Medical Academy review
4.4 Total Score
Key Takeaways

Ultimate Medical Academy is still actively looking for new students while having thousands of students enrolled in their current programs. As of now, they are still officially a non-profit educational institution accredited by ABHES. Thus, they are eligible for government-funded student aid.
However, keep in mind that this is how Ultimate Medical Academy has been operating for the past decades. If you still consider enrolling with Ultimate Medical Academy, we highly recommend you to look at students’ testimonies from a neutral website (not from their official website) and make sure you do not fall for their predatory tactics. As for those of you who are looking for other college alternatives, make sure to do a thorough background check before making any commitments, good luck!

3Expert Score
Honesty
2.5
Trust Factor
3.5
Reputation
3.5
Customer Service
2.5
5.7User's score
Honesty
5.7
Trust Factor
5.5
Reputation
5.7
Customer Service
6
PROS
  • Null
CONS
  • Multiple Critical Reviews From Customers
  • Association with Trump University
  • Horrible
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5 Comments
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  1. 5
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    on UMAS website it actually tells you a list of schools that you can transfer to to further your education to your BA

    Helpful(0) Unhelpful(0)You have already voted this
  2. 0.5
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    I am in the middle of a predatory lending lawsuit with them they hounded and rushed me through the process to join not telling me what to expect and led me to believe I had a bunch of grants and I come out with a $17000 bill for an online class. The advertisement on social media had a lady laying across her bed with a laptop smiling and said “work from home”. They said they were helping me find a job and all they did was send me Indeed ads over my phone and then call my current employer asking what I did there so they knew I was looking for another job. The online instructors were rude and demeaning.

    - CONS: Got scammed and they told me I would manage a medical office and still not happening.
    Helpful(2) Unhelpful(0)You have already voted this
  3. 5
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    As a previous graduate of UMA and I am about to graduate in 6 days with my Associates degree, I highly disagree with this article. Im unsure why people are blaming the school for debt as they clearly tell you how much each course costs and if you will need to take out loans to cover the remainder of the costs. You are not obligated to take out loans but If you want to further your education like any other college, you may have to pay loans and may obtain debt just like all the millions of other people who have attended a college. Also the fact you can finish and obtain an certification,associate, or bachelor degree in less than 8 months is way better than going to a physical location and the debt would be nearly 40,000 60,000 or more. I also see in the review that they mustve failed their course in order to know what happens when you fail but how is that a scam. Also the comment about not being stuck enough with needles to be a phlebotomist makes no sense at all. A career advisor nor a student advocate can give your medical information as such because they are only being paid to make sure you are doing good in your career field and studies. I also graduate with a 4.0 GPA and obtained 3 dean list certificates along with ABK honor society. They also helped me find a work 1 week after graduating with paid training and my position was $15 a hr which is what I asked for. My first paycheck was $1500 including the paid training. I feel this school may not work for everyone but dont discredit the thousands of other students that did and still are helping because your experience didnt go as planned.

    + PROS: You get career services years after you graduate. You get the best of the best jobs
    - CONS: too many calls from career services to make sure you are doing good in classes
    Helpful(1) Unhelpful(0)You have already voted this
  4. 1
    Honesty
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    Customer Service
    30

    I took online UMA classes for Billing and Coding in 2015.I have $10,000 in loan debts and no coding job because I have no experience if I had know that experience beforehand was very important I would have not taken these classes and all the false hopes of how UMA was going to help and be there for me.I want my loans cancelled I was Scammed.

    - CONS: Not being truthful,Cost.
    Helpful(2) Unhelpful(1)You have already voted this
  5. I spent $14,500 for a coding certification from this institution. I knew something was a little off and confronted the Dean of the school in 2010. I was told by him that I am in the top 5% and considered exceptional because the school truly focuses on “inner-city” applicants. I was surprised and deeply offended by this statement and said as much. I had filed a complaint and it was dismissed as unfounded. Also, this school submitted a request for financial aid for me the semester after I graduated and when I tried to fight it they said that they NEVER submitted for my financial aid, yet I have been paying the loans since 2010!

    The credits DO NOT transfer and they are not recognized by any respected college or universities.

    A worthless institution.

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