Never in my blogs have I named a private business establishment. I have maintained that stand till date. Now I break my rule to name a company by name #FIITJEE, for the gullible don’t get conned.

FIITJEE is a coaching institute that began its operations in 1992. It was started by an IITian to provide training for the considerably difficult entrance exam for the Indian Institutes of Technology. The exam is JEE- Joint Entrance Exam and is one of the most difficult eligibility tests in the world to enter into the prestigious IITs.

FIITJEE’s courses have been popular and thousands take it year over year. With popularity, the cost of the courses also rose. The company came up with class room courses, and long distance courses and of late, has had tie-ups with mainstream CBSE schools and conducts its courses during school hours.

As the courses became popular and expensive, the company began conducting nation wide exams to select students for its preparatory courses. The carrot was ‘performance based scholarship’. People have been falling for it and the company was making good money. Nothing wrong so far, as the company was doing a good job of making students get through the entrance exams.

In August they announced a national test by name ‘Big-Bang’ to choose students. I had opted to  enroll my son, an VIII grader, so that he would become eligible to undergo a four year integrated course in a school in Chennai. As I am from Singapore, I had to fly down to Chennai for a day, make my son sit for the day long exam and return  home.

In the exam hall, FIITJEE conducted an interactive session to parents of prospective students. I came to know that the fees for 4 year preparatory course ( Class IX – XII ) would be Rs 8,00,000 (without scholarship) plus the fees charged by the school in which the course was run. In case the child got a scholarship, the fee would get reduced accordingly.

My son got 50% scholarship. I was expecting to pay Rs 4,00,000 and secure the Integrated School training. The company was gracious enough to offer me three packages with differing installments and the package ranged from Rs 6,67,035 to Rs 7,04,835 to 747,286 for the four years. This is in addition to a ‘Caution Deposit’ of Rs 2,00,000. And the school would charge additional fees as per its norms.

When I flaunted the 50% scholarship score, I got the shock of my life – the offer was after applying the scholarship. What that would mean is this: If my son would have not got any scholarship, I would have to pay close to Rs 12,00,000 plus a additional Rs 2,00,000 for ‘Caution Deposit’. FIITJEE was ‘kind enough’ to offer me a reduced fee, it seemed. And apparently the ‘50% scholarship’ was applicable only for the ‘tuition fees’.

I have not mentioned the software installation charges of Rs 3,500 and a mobile device maintenance fee of Rs 950 per year. One would have to buy an android tablet or choose to buy from their vendor of choice.

The above are for the 50% scheme.

I can afford the fees. But I still chose not to pay up, as I couldn’t come to terms with the monstrosity of the whole ponzi scheme.

I don’t intend to pass judgement on the business ethics or comment on the pricing. I have just one question: Why deceive children in the name of ‘scholarship’ ?

P.S.: I have gone through their past course materials. They are good. What troubles me is the attempt to loot.