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Be wary of for-profit colleges that hide the truth about their results

Student-Working on Laptop 849825_640It’s heartbreaking. I’ve seen young people sign up for for-profit colleges and they use their laptops to complete the courses. They expect great things from the programs they choose. However, the results are usually poor, despite what the advertising says.

Problems with for-profit colleges

Most colleges will give you a valuable education that can help you achieve your career goals. But some are more interested in taking your money without giving you the training you need to get into the career you want. These schools may try to hide important information about what their training will accomplish for you.

When a college or university claims it has relationships with well-known employers, those promises may convince people to attend – even if those promises aren’t true.

Sollers College lawsuit

That’s what happened with Sollers College, according to a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit.

The FTC says Sollers College recruited students with promises of high – 90 percent – placement rates within months of graduation, and said they were partnered with well-known companies. Actually, the school’s job placement rate for some programs was as low as 52 percent, and many of the businesses listed had no relationship with the school, said Ari Lazarus, consumer education specialist for the FTC.

The FTC also said, these claims weren’t only to get students in the door – they were a way to encourage students to sign up for income share agreements – a method of tuition financing that Sollers profited from, Lazarus said.

As part of the settlement, Sollers College has canceled all ISAs issued by the school, resulting in $3.4 million in debt relief for students.

If you went to Sollers College and had an ISA that was canceled, there is nothing you need to do to “enroll” and you don’t need to pay for this cancelation – anyone who claims you do is a scammer, he said.

For more information about the canceled ISAs, go to ftc.gov/sollers.

Look before you leap

If you’re looking at colleges, ask questions and do your own research – and don’t rely on the statements in those glossy brochures, Lazarus said.

Go to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard to find information about schools, such as what percentage of students graduate, how much debt students have, and whether students are able to repay their loans.

For example, the College Scorecard shows that DeVry University-California, a for-profit college, has a graduation rate of 26 percent, costs $30,139 a year, and had median earnings of $45,217.

You can see how deceptive the TV ads are for these for-profit colleges. They tout how inexpensive they are and how fast you can get through their programs. It’s not true. When I see the ads, I cringe.

For for-profit colleges, the 2023 average undergraduate tuition and fees is $16,976, according to College Tuition Compare.

That’s more than the average undergraduate tuition and fees of top colleges in Washington state where I live – $11,718 for Washington residents.

Then, when these young people finish their for-profit college degree, they find they have huge student debt – and nothing. No high-paying job, but saddled with huge student debt.

Be wary of for-profit colleges. They often dupe students with false advertising. I’ve written about it many times through the years.

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