prospective students led to a flood of calls—about five a day. Four of our prospective students filled out forms on two Web sites, which ask questions about students’ interests, match them to for-profit colleges with relevant programs, and provide the students’ information to the appropriate college or the college’s outsourced calling center for follow-up about enrollment. Two fictitious prospective students expressed interest in a culinary arts certificate, one on Web site A and one on Web site B. Two other prospective students expressed interest in a bachelor’s in business administration degree, one on each Web site.
Within minutes of filling out forms, three prospective students received numerous phone calls from colleges. One fictitious prospective student received a phone call about enrollment within 5 minutes of registering and another 5 phone calls within the hour. Another prospective student received 2 phone calls separated only by seconds within the first 5 minutes of registering and another 3 phone calls within the hour. Within a month of using the Web sites, one student interested in business management received 182 phone calls and another student also interested in business management received 179 phone calls. The two students interested in culinary arts programs received fewer calls—one student received only a handful, while the other received 72. In total, the four students received 436 phone calls in the first 30 days after using the Web sites. Of these, only six calls—all from the same college—came from a public college.11 The table below provides information about the calls these students received within the first 30 days of registering at the Web site.
11Of the 436 calls, not all resulted in a voice message in which a representative identified the school he or she was calling from. For those callers who did not leave a message, GAO attempted to trace the destination of the caller. In some cases GAO was not able to identify who placed the call to the student.