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Web Site Inquiries Result in Hundreds of Calls

  • A representative at a college owned by a publicly traded company in Pennsylvania told our applicant that with regard to the transfer of credits, “different schools treat it differently; you have to roll the dice and hope it transfers.”

  • A representative at a privately owned for-profit college in Washington,

    • D.

      C. told our undercover applicant that the transfer of credits depends on the college the applicant wanted to transfer to.

Some financial aid counselors cautioned undercover applicants not to take out more loans than necessary or provided accurate information about what the applicant was required to report on his FAFSA, for example:

  • One financial aid counselor at a privately owned college in Washington

    • D.

      C. told an applicant that because the money had to be paid back, the applicant should be cautious about taking out more debt than necessary.

  • A financial aid counselor at a college in Arizona owned by a publicly traded company had the undercover applicant call the FAFSA help line to have him ask whether he was required to report his $250,000 inheritance. When the FAFSA help line representative told the undercover applicant that it had to be reported, the college financial aid representative did not encourage the applicant not to report the money.

In addition, some admissions or career placement staff gave undercover applicants reasonable information about prospective salaries and potential for employment, for example:

  • Several undercover applicants were provided salary information obtained from the BLS or were encouraged to research salaries in their prospective fields using the BLS Web site.

  • A career services representative at a privately owned for-profit college in Pennsylvania told an applicant that as an entry level graphic designer, he could expect to earn $10–$15 per hour. According to the BLS only 25 percent of graphic designers earn less than $15 per hour in Pennsylvania.

Some Web sites that claim to match students with colleges are in reality lead generators used by many for-profit colleges to market to prospective students. Though such Web sites may be useful for students searching for schools in some cases, our undercover tests involving four fictitious

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