Revealing Undercover Investigation Related to For-Profit College Controversy

So what’s with all the fuss lately involving for-profit colleges?

Answer: Part of it is due to an alarming government undercover investigation.

Carlos Porto /

Undercover tests at 15 for-profit colleges exposed several deceptive and fraudulent financial aid practices.

Four government employees posed as college students filling out college aid forms. These fake applicants registered with Web sites that linked for-profit colleges with prospective students.  They  were immediately ambushed with calls at all hours from the colleges’ recruiters.

That’s what’s discussed in the U.S. Government Accountability Office report entitled “For-Profit Colleges: Undercover Testing Finds Colleges Encouraged Fraud and Engaged in Deceptive and Questionable Marketing Practices.”

These applicants were also encouraged by college personnel to lie on their financial aid forms to qualify for financial aid. It was also suggested that they embellish their potential salary after graduation. Plus, the fake applicants received obscure information about the duration of college programs and the graduation rates. The college personnel at the tested schools even pressured them to enroll at their institution without speaking with a financial advisor, or learning ways they could finance their education.

The interactions with the tested schools weren’t all bad. The applicants did receive some accurate and helpful information, such as advice to not borrow too much money.

The report came upon another abnormality, though.  The associate’s degrees and certificates at the tested schools were found to cost more compared to those at public colleges nearby. Yet, the costs at the tested schools were comparable to private colleges when similar degrees were offered.

Photo Credit: Carlos Porto / (