It’s (probably) a scam. And it’s hard to imagine companies possess the indecency of targeting men or women who have served in the protection of this great nation, and interested in bleeding out veterans of their GI Bill tuition dollars.
But, how does one look for this trickery and avoid this fraudulent activity looking to load up veterans with student debt?
It’s actually tough, because many websites, phone calls, and interviews with “recruiting” officers look and sound quite convincing during personal interaction. In reality however, these institutions are only truly after your hard-earned cash. Let’s discuss some of the characteristics to look for and some red flags you should keep in mind when deciding if an opportunity truly is legitimate.
Private colleges can turn out to be one of the biggest scams in the United States. You’ve likely seen commercials and advertising campaigns persuading individuals of great success, high-pay, and early retirement due to the “unique” experience of institutions such as University of Phoenix, Brown Mackie College, and Full Sail University. Before signing anything, no matter how good the recruiters may sound, let’s take a step back and understand the national success rate of students at these colleges:
- For-profit graduation rate within 6 years of entering: 28% (56% in public institutions)
- For-profit universities account for nearly half of all student-loan defaults.
- Can still speak of federal grants to offer.
- Colleges with high loan default rates lose federal student aid eligibility.
- Often don’t provide any academic training, instead provide vocational skills.
“They were telling me everything I wanted to hear to get me in the door,” said a student wanting to study graphic design at Collins College. This is what for-profit recruiters are employed to do – bring in business.
You must remember that these institutions stand as a business first, and educator far-off second. They thrive off your student loan debt. Many of these institutions try to dupe you into a “free orientation” in which you may sample the education before enrolling. At the largest for-profit college in the U.S., University of Phoenix, this is called the trial period of instruction.
Be wary of recruiters actively pursuing you and pressuring you into enrolling. One instance details a for-profit recruiter going to an army barracks to recruit brain damaged servicemen. After signing up, marines couldn’t remember what recruiter signed them up for. Consider yourself the prey, and recruiters as the predators looking to feast upon misinformation.
Although you should never rule out an option that may better your placement and social standing within society, take a long, hard look at EACH educational option before signing your name on the bottom line. This goes for not only in regards to for-profit institutions, but all educational opportunities as well. As a serviceman or woman, you have given years of your life to serving this country, so make sure you aren’t swindled into paying for a valueless degree of which you’ll be unable to pay for.
Frank McCourt holds a degree in economics. Since graduating he has working a variety of financial settings. When not working you can find Frank watching B-rate sci-fi tv shows and pretending he knows a lot more about wine than he really does.