The recruiter uses high-pressure sales tactics.

If a school recruiter is subjecting you to high pressure sales tactics - including claiming you have to sign up immediately - walk away.  Beware of any recruiter who warns you of “limited spots” in a class, especially if classes are online or if the school doesn’t follow a traditional semester calendar.  Take the time to have all your questions answered and don’t allow yourself to be pushed into making a hasty decision.

The recruiter makes verbal promises.

If a recruiter makes any promises or assertions about the school, ask to see that information in writing and verify that information with trusted sources. The Attorney General’s Office has received a number of complaints from students who have relied on the oral statements of recruiters, only to later discover that the school has conflicting information in, for example, its course catalog.

The school does not disclose information as required.

Government investigations reveal that many for-profit schools have used tactics that misled prospective students with regard to the costs of the program, availability and obligations of federal aid, graduation rates, job placement rates, and transferability of credit.  A 2010 investigative report by the GAO stated that some for-profit schools "failed to provide clear information about the college's program duration, costs, or graduation rate despite federal regulations requiring them to do so." 

Be sure to ask plenty of questions when talking to recruiters, and walk away or hang up if you do not get clear, concise answers.

The degree or certificate seems too easy to obtain.

Online schools often promise it’s easy to get a degree. If the degree seems too easy to earn – for example you simply need to take a test online or you can earn a degree based largely on your life experience – you should be very skeptical. In many cases, such diplomas aren't worth the paper they're printed on and won't be recognized by employers or by other degree-granting schools.

The recruiter claims a very high job placement rate, guarantees a job or quotes high future income.

Job placement numbers may be deceptive or inflated by excluding various groups of students who did not get jobs and/or including temp jobs and jobs that have nothing to do with your program of study.

No school can guarantee that you will get a job after completing their program, even in the best of economic times.

If the school representative tells you how much money you can earn after completing their program, do not simply rely on the school’s statistics.  Look at job postings online and talk to potential employers. Find out what area employers are paying and what are they looking for in job candidates. Find out if they hire graduates from that school.

The recruiter tells you the program won’t cost you anything.

While you may not have to pay out of pocket in order to attend a for-profit school, you may have to take on many thousands of dollars in loans that you will need to repay plus interest. You may also be required to pay back your grant funding or other federal entitlement benefit if you don’t complete your program.

The recruiter encourages you to lie on financial aid forms.

The 2010 GAO investigation also found that some recruiters encouraged students to commit fraud by lying on their financial aid applications in order to qualify for assistance. Run; don’t walk, if you are ever asked to lie on a financial aid (or any) form.

The recruiter reassures you that it is easy to walk away from student loans.

You cannot simply walk away from student loan debt. If you do not pay your student debt, you could end up owing thousands of dollars more than your initial loan due to interest and fees.  The Attorney General’s Office has seen a consumer’s $6,000 student loan balloon into a $21,000 debt as a result of interest and default fees.

Student loan debt is rarely allowed to be discharged in a bankruptcy. Students who default on their student loans experience poor credit ratings as a result.  In addition, students who fail to pay their student loans can have their Social Security benefits and tax refunds intercepted and can have their wages garnished.