Over the past several years, enrollment in for-profit colleges has grown from 365,000 to 1.8 million students. These students received $4 billion in Pell Grants and $20 billion in federal loans in 2009 alone. That’s a lot of federal money being given away to help students achieve their long-term career goals. But, is the money being spent properly? Are these schools becoming the next money-hungry business in America?
The United States Government Accountability Office conducted an undercover investigation into fifteen for-profit colleges to find out just that. Are these schools operating to help the students or merely take their money? The purpose of the investigation was two-fold: (1) to determine whether the colleges were engaging in fraudulent, deceptive, or other questionable marketing practices and (2) compare the tuition rates with other colleges in the region. They sent undercover applicants to schools in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, D.C.
The results are startling! All fifteen schools engaged in deceptive or otherwise questionable statements to applicants. That means that when these students went to enroll, they were told false or misleading information about the value of the education and their future success in their careers. Four colleges encouraged applicants to submit false information on financial forms. This would mean the school would make a lot more money from our federal government. The study also found the schools cost more than associate’s degrees and certificates at comparable institutions in the geographic region.
In today’s economic climate, individuals who are out of work and cannot find a job are turning to get a degree and furthering their education. The degree could be in anything from massage therapy to management. People are lured by the promise of a high paying career, an education in a short period of time, and a way out of their current dire situation. These schools are preying on these people by lying to them and giving them a worthless degree.
Is your school engaging in fraudulent practices? Are you a victim of these colleges? Go to www.juliejohnsonlaw.com to find out.
For the full report provided in Testimony Before the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions before the U.S. Senate, August 4, 2010, go to www.gao.gov/new.items/d10948t.pdf.