Are Some Online Colleges and Universities Cheating the System?

March 4, 2009

Consumer’s Digest magazine says that many online colleges and universities are exploiting the Federal Title IV Student Financial Assistance Program.

For-profit online colleges and universities represent a $6.2-billion-dollar industry, with over 600,000 students. Consumer’s Digest (CD) points out that because of lack of oversight, many of these online universities are not playing by the rules, by not being up front with students about their costs and the value of their degrees.

CD also states that many students’ previous college credits are not transferable, but the student doesn’t find out until after they sign contracts, which can cost the student more money because they have to take more classes. Plus, they say that teachers were allegedly inflating grades, so students could stay enrolled and financial aid can keep “flowing in.” It is even told that some student’s financial aid was “tapped into,” even after the student had stopped taking classes.

The CD report will be in its April issue (on newsstands March 3, 2009), the report titled, “Degrees of Difficulty: The Truth About Online Universities.” They interviewed 26 former employees and students from big-name online colleges and universities. Some of them revealed that many of these colleges and universities used call centers and commission-based enrollments, which CD states is forbidden by federal law.

CD warns consumers not to enroll at a for-profit online college or university until obtaining, in writing, a formal audit of transferable college credits. If consumers are considering a degree in a career field that requires recognition by a professional organization (like nursing, etc.), they should consult the body that grants licenses to ensure that the online school’s accreditation is recognized.


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