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Venture

Robert Trigaux

Florida probes 5 for-profit colleges for students stuck with big debts, poor job prospects

20

October

kaplanuniversitylogo.jpgWake up and good morning. Five for-profit colleges are being investigated by Florida’s attorney general for possible misrepresentations about financial aid, recruitment and accreditation. Bloomberg News reports that the civil investigation began after consumer complaints and the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report for a U.S. Senate hearing in August about for-profit colleges.

argosyuniversitylogo.gifThat GAO report found that representatives from all 15 for-profit schools it had visited offered misleading or fraudulent information to undercover agents posing as prospective students. Here's the Bloomberg story.

medvance_logo.gifThe five schools under investigation by the state AG's economic crimes unit include:

* Kaplan, owned by the Washington Post Co. Here's more from the state attorney general.

* Argosy Education Group Inc., part of Education Management Corp. Here's more from the state attorney general.

* MedVance Institute, part of Education Group Inc. Here's more from the state attorney general.

universityofphoenixlogo.gif* University of Phoenix, owned by Apollo Group Inc. Here's more from the state attorney general.

* And Everest College (also known as Florida Metropolitan University), part of Corinthian Colleges Inc. Here's more from the state attorney general.

floridametropolitanuniversitylogo.gifThe Dow Jones wire reports that for-profit colleges have been under fire lately for their aggressive recruiting tactics, with government officials calling into question the schools' quality of education and high price tags. The U.S. Senate is conducting a series of hearings on the issue, while the U.S. Department of Education is set to release a series of rules this winter that would penalize schools that graduate students with heavy debt loads and poor job prospects.

Here's what the GAO (an investigative arm of the U.S. Congress). in its report, states it found when it went undercover at 15 for-profit colleges:

"Undercover tests at 15 for-profit colleges found that 4 colleges encouraged fraudulent practices and that all 15 made deceptive or otherwise questionable statements to GAO's undercover applicants. Four undercover applicants were encouraged by college personnel to falsify their financial aid forms to qualify for federal aid--for example, one admissions representative told an applicant to fraudulently remove $250,000 in savings.

"Other college representatives exaggerated undercover applicants' potential salary after graduation and failed to provide clear information about the college's program duration, costs, or graduation rate despite federal regulations requiring them to do so."

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 8:45am]

    

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