Gov’t Actions – Senate HELP Committee

in august 2010, the US Senate HELP committee held hearings concerning the practices at for-profit institutions.  even if you are not one who is following this topic, the proceedings were amazing.

the hearing started with testimony from Greg Kutz, a director from the GAO (Governmental Accounting Office).  his office performed undercover operations where shoppers representing the government took hidden cameras into the admissions offices and taped the actions of representatives of the for-profit sector.

see video below for a short description of the process:

there were 15 visits in the probe with 12 different schools represented.  geographically, the investigation covered 6 states plus district of columbia.  the results yielded an incredible 15 of 15 cases of misrepresentation of facts to potential students with 4 schools advising the potential students to commit FRAUD against the US government.  see the video below for this summary from Mr. Kutz:

selection criteria with list of schools in the probe

the disgraceful actions covered a number of areas.  see videos below for examples:

reps pressuring students (disgraceful!)

grossly exaggerating salary potential

convincing student to commit fraud

lying about cost of school versus other programs

lead generation company practices

telling student that they will not need to pay back the student loan

questions from Sen. Franken attempting to assess the scope of the problem

while the edited version of the hearings are above, the whole video is available at help.senate.gov. Click here to see the written report submitted by the GAO.

in addition to this information, the hearing also included testimony from three other individuals.

  • David Hawkins , Director of Public Policy and Research, National Association for College Admission Counseling, Arlington, VA
  • Michale McComis , Executive Director, Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, Arlington, VA
  • Joshua Pruyn , former Admissions Representative, Alta College, Inc., Denver, CO
  • Mr. Hawkins talked about his association’s tracking of this situation and its attribution of many of the unfair practices to the safe harbor amendments adopted earlier in the decade. his organization has spent much of this decade trying to ensure that these predatory practices are taken out of the admission’s process for all schools.

    Mr. McComis represented the accrediting bodies and talked to how the industry was policing itself. his performance did not provide any reason to feel confident that they are doing a good job overseeing the process. below is a video where Sen. Franken questions him on this topic (a must see!).

    Mr. Pryun is a former admissions rep for westwood college and he describes the experience of being an admissions rep at a for-profit school. he also included some emails and other attachments to further demonstrate the environment.

    my contacts from american career college confirmed that these are very common practices and were confident that these practices were being employed within the admissions process at the school. they pointed to the management of the school and the admissions team and the fact that they are have been working in the industry for many years and previously worked for the schools included in these probes. also comments in the office by the admissions VP like “if they ain’t cryin’, they ain’t buyin'” were commonly touted with no sense of remorse or concern for the actions or the impact to the prospective students.

    if you are considering a school like ACC, check out the reviews and go through these videos. if you experience anything like this, you should definitely not attend classes there and consider reporting the information to your US or state senator and/or US or state representative. also, contact the BPPE who is responsible for regulating the for-profit schools in the state of california.

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