Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Happ announces plan to crack down on for-profit scams

Jefferson — Attorney General candidate Susan Happ will crack down on the growing number of for-profit colleges that prey on Wisconsin students and veterans, she said Friday.

“Unscrupulous for-profit colleges are luring students with promises they can’t keep, leaving many of them with no degrees of little value or no degrees at all, but mountains of debt,” Happ said. “As Attorney General, I will investigate, prosecute and seek hefty penalties for deceptive practices, and work to see that students are made whole,” she said. 


In a policy paper issued Friday, Happ said veterans are a special target of the for-profit schools because of a provision in federal law that works to the schools’ advantage if they receive veterans’ benefits. 

Many for-profit colleges across the nation and in our state play by the rules and provide Wisconsin students with a solid education.” Happ said. “These by-the-book colleges, however, have to compete with an increasing number of schools utilizing high pressure sales techniques that misrepresent the costs and benefits of the programs they offer, their graduation placement rate, their accreditation status and whether credits will transfer to another institution.” 

Their high-pressure tactics and deceptive marketing violate state consumer protection laws,” Happ said. “We will seek hefty penalties, sending a message that Wisconsin will not permit them to profit from peddling a subpar education to our veterans and low-income students who need it the most.” 

Happ’s plan also calls for partnering with other state Attorneys General and federal agencies to adopt best practices from other states, supporting legislation and regulation to help curb the deceptive practices, and collaborating with the state Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the federal Veterans Administration, and other agencies serving Wisconsin veterans to educate veterans about the perils of dealing with some in the industry, and warning them about what to watch for when choosing a college. 

There are currently 162 post-secondary for-profit institutions servicing Wisconsin students. While most have a presence in the state, many are located out of state but service Wisconsin students. The Wisconsin Educational Approval Board estimates 26,000 Wisconsin students attend for-profit online colleges annually, paying nearly $155 million in tuition to mostly out-of-state companies.

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