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How to Recognize Deceptive Enrollment Tactics

You should not feel pressured into enrolling at a college. Learn how to spot deceptive enrollment tactics.

The recruiter uses high-pressure sales tactics.

Be skeptical of any recruiter who pressures you to sign up immediately for a program of study, or 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 get answers to your questions and do your own independent research.  If the school is degree granting, use College Scorecard to learn about and compare typical costs, graduation rates, and the median earnings of graduates 10 years after enrolling.  If the school is not degree granting, check the school’s website to review gainful employment disclosures and other disclosures required by Massachusetts. 

Don’t let anyone push you into a hasty enrollment decision.

The recruiter makes verbal promises.

If a recruiter makes any promises or claims, ask for that information in writing and verify it with trusted sources. The Attorney General’s Office has received complaints from students who relied on recruiters’ oral statements, but later discovered that course catalogs or websites contained contradictory information.

The recruiter guarantees a job or promises high future income.

If a school representative guarantees that you will get a job after completing a program, don’t believe it unless the school makes this promise in writing. 

If the school’s representative tells you how much money you can earn after completing a program, don’t rely on the representative’s statement or the school’s statistics.  Look at job postings online and talk to potential employers.  Find out what local employers are paying, what they are looking for in job candidates, and whether they hire graduates from the school you’re considering. College Scorecard also lists median incomes of graduates for degree-granting schools.

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

While you may not have to pay up front to attend a for-profit school, you will almost certainly have to take out thousands of dollars in student loans.  Before you enroll, make sure you understand how much student loan debt you will owe.  Sometimes schools will disburse federal loan money to help cover living expenses.  It’s important to remember that these loan funds will have to be paid back later with interest. 

Also, keep in mind that if you start a program and withdraw, you could still end up owing substantial amounts of money, both to the school and on your federal loans

The recruiter tells you that it’s easy to walk away from student loans.

While income-driven repayment plans may be available to lower your monthly federal student loan payment, it’s very difficult to walk away from student loan debt.  Student loan debt is rarely dischargeable in bankruptcy.  If you fail to pay your federal student loans, a portion of your wages and social security benefits can be automatically garnished, and your tax refunds can be taken.  If you do not make regular payments on your student loans or if you leave them in forbearance, your balance will increase substantially. The Attorney General’s Office has seen a $6,000 student loan balloon into a $21,000 debt because of interest and default fees.  Defaulting on a student loan will also ruin your credit score.