Full Sail University Reviews – Legit or Scam?

Full Sail University
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Full Sail University


Full Sail University is a trade school specializing in higher learning that offers a variety of degrees in audio, film, design, computer animation, and other fields. Full Sail University is located in Winter Park, Florida, and was founded in 1979.

Full Sail University is often called a “scam” by former students for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the largest reason is the high expense of receiving an education there.  Tuition ranges from around $36,000 to around $75,000 for a full degree program. Students frequently complain of having paid such high tuition prices and yet still having extreme difficulty finding a job in their field.

Now, many students of universities all over the nation make this very same complaint every single day, especially with the current state of the economy and job market. What makes Full Sail University different, however, is that they are a for-profit institution.

Controversy Surrounding For-Profit Schools

For-profit schools have a laundry list of complaints and criticisms lodged against them on a regular basis. The biggest problem by far with for-profit schools is their accreditation.

For-profit schools like Full Sail University have federal accreditation through the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), which is a third party, independent commission recognized by the US Department of Education to accredit schools. However, this accreditation is incredibly specific, and unlike regional accreditation given to public universities and colleges, it is not necessarily recognized or accepted by other schools or employers.

This means that whatever credits you accumulate at Full Sail University will not transfer to or be accepted by other universities if you need to transfer. In addition, if you receive a bachelor’s degree at Full Sail and are looking to another institution to receive a Master’s degree, they are not guaranteed to recognize your bachelor’s degree.

In addition, former students have complained their employers have not recognized Full Sail degrees, meaning they were not promoted or given salary compensation for having received a higher degree.

This problem has become so prevalent in the United States, that the Federal Government is planning on passing a ban saying that student loans funded by the Federal Government cannot be placed toward for-profit schools.

Is Full Sail University a Scam?

Well, despite the complaints both from former students and employees, what Full Sail University is doing is completely legal. Other for-profit institutions with potential accreditation problems include Phoenix University and DeVry University, as well as most culinary and art institutions.

However, it is up to every student who is entering college to think long and hard about the money it will cost to attain a degree, as well as whether or not that institution or degree will work for them. Researching that school’s rankings and reputation for the degree you wish to receive, as well as their graduation and job placement rate is absolutely necessary before you take on the financial commitment.

Note: If you’re in the process of researching online schools check out our helpful guide, “How to Choose the Right Online College.”

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Customer Responses, Reviews, or Complaints

Average Rating for " Full Sail University " is 2.61 out of 5 based on 110 reviews.
  • I've gone to college in the past, and as part of a career-change, I'm currently enrolled in the Game Dev BS program. I'm also concurrently attending public university for Computer Programming. I feel I have enough exposure to both traditional public college and Full Sail University to write a brief objective analysis between the two. This has been my experience so far.

    Full Sail is nationally accredited, not regionally accredited. All this means is the criteria for transferring credits into or out of Full Sail differs slightly from the criteria for transferring credits between two regionally accredited schools. It makes no difference to an employer. Full Sail's administrative offices are my biggest complaint, as the various departments tend to have trouble communicating and coordinating with each other. It took several weeks for them to figure out my VA benefits, FAFSA eligibility, billing, transfer credit, etc. However, once all that was done, it was smooth sailing thereafter.

    The teaching staff has been great. Every instructor I've had has been knowledgeable, experienced, available, and easy to learn from. The material is also great. Very little time is wasted on irrelevant general ed courses, leaving only those which actually benefit you in the field (Composition, Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, etc.), and the rest is all core training.

    As previously mentioned, I'm attending Full Sail and a nearby public university at the same time, and doing this has made me realize just how much I love Full Sail. Education at a traditional public university feels so slow, dumbed-down, and dull. Doing 6 classes at a time, not zeroing in enough in any of them, and then having the same classes for 3-4 months straight tends to leave me scattered, unfocused, and bored. A year of college left me feeling like I had the same level of expertise as I did before I started. Then public school has the added stressors of hoping the class you need next is scheduled to run next semester, hoping you can register for it in time before it fills, figuring out which book (the one on the website or the one in the syllabus) is the right one for your class, finding and buying that book before class starts, and often having to attend different campuses all over town to get the class you need. Half the time the instructors have very little involvement with the class and are only at the school for their own research projects, are inaccessible, and have poor teaching practices as reflected in their ratings. Tutors sometimes cost money too. Parking decals run about $80 a term. There are some student success programs, but I've never seen much recruiting done on campus at any of the public colleges I've attended. A 2-3 hour class drags on painfully as I check the clock every 2 minutes.

    By contrast, at Full Sail I focus on one or two classes at a time, delve deep into the subject, and learn so much more in a single 1-month class than I learn in six 4-month classes at public school. I mean that literally. My first 1-month long programming class taught me more than I'd learned in a year of programming in public school. My scheduling is done automatically, my books are issued to me before each new class, and all my core classes are in one building. Brand new books are issued for free (covered by your tuition), laptops with the appropriate software pre-installed are issued (covered by your fees), tutors are available for free, and classes failed can be retaken for free. Even classes passed can be retaken for free. You're (usually) free to sit in on any class in the program if you have the free time and desire to do so. All of my instructors so far have been great, and all of my instructors for my next few classes have high ratings. Parking is free. I've personally witnessed representatives from AMD, ATI, Google, and EA recruiting on-campus. An 8-hour class blasts by in the blink of an eye, sometimes before I'm even ready to leave.

    As a veteran, my education benefits would pay for me to attend any public school I want 100% free. To attend Full Sail, however, I have to spend several thousands out of pocket, because the VA pays private schools much less. I chose Full Sail anyway, and I couldn't be happier with that choice.

    I also want to add that people who complain about not being able to find a job should not be blaming Full Sail. Full Sail is not your personal job finder. It is a school. You pay for an education, and they give it to you. What you do with it after graduation is on you. Entertainment industries are extremely competitive, and this is something you should already know and accept before ever enrolling at Full Sail. It's up to you to decide if your passion is worth the situation it puts you in economically.

    On a final note, I do want to stress what others have said, that if you don't really know what your passion is, and you don't have a strong work ethic, then Full Sail will be too fast, focused, and demanding for you.
    • Thank you for your service first off, and secondly thank you for such a great contrast. I, too, have felt traditional school is focused on the lowest common denominator and that college should be HARD and FOCUSED and not just busy work or erroneous, pointless classes (i.e. Film Appreciation was a class I took for an Electronic Engineering degree).

      Yes, Full Sail is for-profit, but that puts you, the student, in the unique situation of being a paying customer and not just a number like a non-profit, tax payer funded schools.

      I for one am eagerly anticipating going to Full Sail. And this is from someone who used to work for AIU (another University of Phoenix type school).
    • HI...name changed for obvious reasons

      just wanted to say, thank you very much. this is bar far, the best, well written and fair opinion i have read about full sail to date. ive been considering fullsail for over a year now for my masters. because of personal problems and reading about the "full sail scam" i was skeptic and didnt join.

      Well I start November 21 2011 and only wish I had started in Nov 2010.

      Wish me luck

      Have a great evening

      Jackie's girl
    • @NYX I really enjoyed your educated view!
  • I am writing here today as a very upset, distressed parent of a child who went to Full Sail University! It has been 2 years now since graduation, and over $80,000.00 of debt in school loans, not to mention credit cards used for living expenses, and NO job or no prospect of a job!

    The sales pitch was brilliant & believable to suck us in. The promise of 90% of graduates getting jobs after graduation was impressive! Although, after much research now, we learned that most of those 90% are jobs NOT related in the fields they went to school for, more like Starbucks and waiters/waitresses.

    And not to mention, that the credits taken at Full Sail, will not be honored at other schools or even acknowledged at regular schools or the military! We were totally sucked into a financial endless hole of useless debt. I can not even sleep at night with all of the bills & payments (NOT counting the deferments bills) that we are left with and NO job or hope of.

    He took Recording Arts and then Marketing to broaden his field when he got out. He was given a list of Non paying internships, that he looked forward to, and did well at, only to not get hired because they had no intentions on hiring anyone (as told to him by people who already had jobs there). He did 3 of these "internships" at different companies. He has gotten no more help from Full Sail or support at all. He moved to California in hopes of better opportunities there and MORE job offers, only to be still working as a waiter. Most of his friends that he graduated with, are in the same boat, with only 2 of them working in the industry. Sadly, we are left with high and mounting debt, endless monthly payments and worries where this money is going to come from to pay for a ridiculously high, over rated school with nothing but promises to give! I was that stupid to believe that a school costing that much, may just be able to back what they say & get these kids jobs. I was taken in more ways than one and paying for it everyday out of my pocket and with my health with all this stress to figure out how we are going to pay for nothing!

    I have 2 other kids who both want to go to Full Sail, one for Filming and the other for music. I was holding off before even considering it to see if any shred of hope had come through for their brother. I even had the film child start at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, paying less than 1/4 of Full Sail, He is only in his first year, and has many offers for paying jobs next year, and has been working (non paid) on different major movies being filmed in the Philadelphia area already! I have many people email me on my facebook all the time asking about the school because they know my son has gone there, asking for a good reference. Until now, I have not bashed the school at all, but really can not lie to people anymore or pretend its something it just isn't. I would never want anyone to go through what we are now. I have gone to different sites and googled the school for help & to see if anyone else is going through what we are, and found MANY, way too many that are in the same exact position and just so unhappy. I wished I had saw and read all the information out there now on the school before he had gone.

    I know this school is only "in this to make money", but really, its just not right to take people's hard earned money and give them nothing!

    My son looks everyday for jobs, networks with anyone he can, talks to old school mates, checks the schools website, ect for any future hope, but there just doesn't seem to be any at all. Unfortunately, I too will be now posting away and warning anyone who will listen to please try to do their research and not to end up like we are, in eternal, crushing debt for nothing!

    • They issued me financial aid. Then took it back (cancelled payment), after I made the deposit. Truly a FOR PROFIT institution.
    • @never accountable, funny thing you are defending Full Sail by saying better schools, that have regional accreditation not trade school accreditation like Full Sail are garbage. You are WRONG!
    • @ Never Accountable: You're making some pretty serious assumptions about Lisa's son there. You don't know the man nor what he's like as a student, and I saw nothing in Lisa's posts that would provide any such information. There are only two reasons I can think of for such an absurdly self-righteous post... either A) you're just a bitter little wreck of a person, leading the life you prescribe for "everyone complaining about Full Sail" and lashing out as a result, or B) you're defending your employer.

      If it's the latter, let me know how much you're making--I could use a second job.
    • @Lisa Giorgio - Your long winded rhetoric sounds typical for a student who didn't apply himself, scraped by, now has nothing to show for it, and wants to blame everyone but who is staring back in the mirror. Take some ownership of your own situation and tell your son to grow up and accept accountability for his inaction. Everyone complaining about Full Sail should simply waste money at their local community college, get a job - that they hate - paying $28k after graduation, and live miserable lives. It's hilarious to me the standard Full Sail is held to while garbage state schools in Pennsylvania get a pass.
    • I'm sorry but I just think your son didn't give it his all. What you put into your education at Full Sail is what you get. I am currently enrolled and I have 4 friends that graduated Full Sail and have been very successful in the industry they studied. I also have met many other people that have been successful after graduating.

      Yes the school is a lot of money but your missing the reason as to why it is expensive. Have you noticed that all the software and text books were included in the tuition? That can get pretty pricey at any other university, and not to mention the security and the top equipment they have an are always updating to benefit the students. Also Full Sail offers tons of Scholarships that are pretty easy to get.

      If your other kids want to go I think you shouldn't hold them back, unless you really really can't afford it,because even though it didn't work out for one of your kids, doesn't mean it wont for your other 2. Also look into the scholarships. There's an easy one for women that can get you up to $21,000 scholarship money.
  • My husband is killing himself to return Full Sail University. He had to drop out due to cost and mix up with classes. Also, he owed for the Laptop the school gave him, so they stopped him from attending school. We are now trying our best to survive plus to come up with the extra $3500 for the laptop.

    What he did not ask his the accreditation value in the work world. He was too overjoyed to go there in the first place. I think they should tell students upfront the accreditation value, especially since he has a felony and is hoping having a degree will boost his chances for employment.

    The degree simply has trade school value, yet it claims that of regional University. Its like going to the store to buy 2lbs sugar and paying the full cost of what that amount of sugar is worth, only to find out its really 1lb you are getting.

    Think, one can sue a supermarket for that. While if you ask someone at Full Sail's Student advice department, it gets brushed aside and they say its the work you put in afterwards, when students needs the tool (qualification) they pay for to take in the workforce.

  • Fully agree with Emily's review of Full Sale University. I attended and was quite surprised at how low the academic bar is set at Full Sail. They accept anyone with a pulse and a checkbook and will graduate anyone that shows up and warms a chair when scheduled to do so.

    If you choose to attend, walk out of the admissions office with an unsigned copy of your enrollment contract and have an attorney look at it. The attorney will tell you that you'd be crazy to sign it.

    • @Baka I got into Cooper Union which only takes people on full scholarship and currently work in education. If you want to graduate 80K+ in debt (can you even figure out the compound interest on a student loan like that?) to attend a school with questionable graduate to hire ratios that is your prerogative, but assuming everyone who's critical of the school couldn't get in is laughable.
    • I nominate Nancy Ford for President!
    • Okay I have something to say...

      I'm in high school, looking into Full Sail. & I've seen a ton of awesome reviews for it; A TON! But I've also seen people @ Tyjec'Amun. @ Tara O'Kelly is just commenting on the bad reviews to reassure people considering the school, like me, that the specific person's scenario does not happen to everyone, & actually, isn't very likely. People like @ Tyjec'Amun decide they want to prove how simple-minded they are & try to talk bad about the school, when the school probably didn't accept them in, & they're mad.

      I am strongly looking forward to hopefully attending Full Sail. & I want to give a thank you to people like @ Tara O'kelly who post good, honest reviews with knowledge behind them.
    • @ Tara O'Kelly: Put the following into your address bar:

    • I beg to differ. They do have low standards to whom they allow in to the university, but that's only because they know that someone that interested in the media industry doesn't like the basic classes like history and stuff so there grades wont be spectacular in college in the SAT. So they choose to not discourage the ones who have the passion but not the grades. Your also wrong about "will graduate anyone that shows up and warms a chair when scheduled to do so." If you don't make the grades or fail to attend class, you fail the class and have to retake it. If you keep failing you will be kicked out. So I have no idea where your getting your information from, but I can tell you they are not facts, whether you would like to believe me or not.
  • I would only go to this school if you have family money to waste-DO NOT TAKE ON DEBT FOR THIS SCHOOL. You would be much better getting an unpaid internship in any field you want to go into. You would even be better paying someone to learn from them in an apprentice-type job. I have 2 bachelor degrees from VCU-which is a decent school, and having a degree from college is no guarantee of a job nowadays. Having said that... Having a college degree from a for-profit school where EVERYONE thinks "these schools accept anyone, they must be super easy, they are just diploma mills," means that any prospective future employer is going to hire someone else with a normal degree. I'm sorry, but that is true. If you are going into a field where it will be hard to get a job or 'make it' like music or recording, etc., you will never be able to even TRY to make it if you have all of this debt on you. Not to mention, that when you're in school for one of these artsy degrees, most of the time they're not even preparing you for your actual job, and so even with one of these degrees, you still won't be hired because you'll lack experience, and it will take time away from you actually pursuing the aspect of the craft that you need to be learning or building on your own. Please look up at watch 'College Conspiracy' on youtube. It really opened my eyes, not that they weren't opened before, to the bubble that is today's education system.
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