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In the News “Fraudulent… deceptive…”

VIEW: Chapter 3 of our May 2010 investigation College, Inc. for background on the sales and marketing techniques of some for-profits.

Released on Aug. 4, 2010, the GAO’s report [PDF] tested the admissions tactics of a nonrepresentative sample of 15 for-profits. Some colleges performed well, giving students a realistic portrait of federal loans and job prospects, however the GAO found that four of the colleges “encouraged fraudulent practices,” and “all 15 made deceptive or otherwise questionable statements.”

Some examples? One admissions rep encouraged an applicant to remove $250,000 in savings from a loan application. Another representative, from a beauty college, informed an applicant that barbers generally earn $150,000-$250,000 per year; in truth, 90 percent of barbers make less than $43,000. And when the undercover applicants provided their information on websites that claim to match students with colleges that best fit their interests, they received an average of five calls a day — some within minutes of filling out the form. One who indicated an interest in business management received 182 calls in a month.

You can watch undercover video of these interactions and read a summary of the GOA’s findings here. The report was presented at a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing on Aug. 4, resulting a commitment from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to review for-profits’ accreditation process.

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