For years now, for-profit universities have undergone scrutiny from previous students, the media and the U.S. Department of Education. The inquiries are the same across the board – do these schools charge too much for what they provide? Are they intentionally drawing students into large amounts of debt
? Do they provide the outcomes for success that they claim?
One such former university is making headlines once more as investigations continue under renewed claims of fraud, thanks in part to the presidential election.
In May 2016, former employees of Trump University testified against the for-profit with some harsh claims. The New York Times
reports, “former managers…portray it as an unscrupulous business that relied on high-pressure sales tactics, employed unqualified instructors, made deceptive claims and exploited vulnerable students willing to pay tens of thousands for Mr. Trump’s insights.”
In addition to these claims, the judge presiding over the case, Judge Curiel, ordered that certain documents be made public, like the employee sales handbook. The Wall Street Journal
states that this was due to The Washington Post’s push to publicize the documents. In it, employees were encouraged to tell students to max out their credit cards in order to pay for expensive real estate courses. They were also told to push emotional buttons in order to lure prospective students into paying the high-figure price tag. Finally, students were promised that Trump would be involved in their education; however, he was not, as reported by The New York Times
Trump obviously denies all of the allegations and claims that a majority of students that attended his school were very pleased with their education.
As for-profit schools continue to fall under investigation and criticism, it’s more important than ever for students to search for schools critically and carefully. After all, you don’t want to earn a degree
from an institution that will be dissolved in a few years’ time. Here are questions you can ask in order to protect yourself:
- What is the average amount of debt that students graduate with from this institution?
- Do your graduates have a high rate of default?
- What kind of tuition payment plans do you offer?
- How do you encourage students to pay?
Be wary of schools, like Trump University, that encourage you to pay tuition with a credit card. Also, as you research potential majors and careers, be sure to investigate starting salaries thoroughly. If you do plan to borrow public or private student loans
for your education, never borrow more than your starting annual salary. Knowing starting salaries can help you determine what kind of education you can realistically afford when you borrow to pay for school.
Having your own game plan and asking tough questions will make for-profit representatives uncomfortable, but as a prospective student, you need to make sure you’re making a safe investment in your education. Do your research, ask smart questions and plan for your future in a way that guarantees your success instead of a mountain of insurmountable debt.