#TipTuesday: Tips to Avoid Shady For-Profit Schools

Every other Tuesday, BBB puts out a new set of tips every consumer can use to keep themselves safer and smarter when making financial decisions.
September 02, 2014

Enrollment at for-profit schools—including trade schools and online universities—has skyrocketed in recent years. Unfortunately, not all schools offer a quality education and enrolling in a sub-par program can be a waste of time and money. This was the case in Idaho just a few months ago, when a college was shut down for the same reasons. 

When applying to a for-profit school, BBB recommends following these tips:

Tip #1: Don't be pressured. If a sales rep is bullying you or demanding immediate sign-up, walk away. A reputable school will allow you time to get questions answered and make an informed decision.

Tip #2: Recognize exaggeration. Beware of any school that guarantees you will get a job or make a certain amount of money after completing their program. Landing a job is never a sure thing, and you should always verify any salary quotes with a third party.

Tip #3: Watch for inflated prices. Before signing up with any for-profit school, do your research and compare costs against other for-profit schools and public colleges.

Tip #4: Verify their accreditation. While BBB Accreditation is always a plus, accreditation with the U.S. Department of Education is an absolute must. If a for-profit school isn't accredited, look elsewhere.

Tip #5: Beware of "cheap and easy." Online diploma mills pose as online schools and often make "cheap and easy" promises. If the degree seems too easy to earn—simply taking a test online or earning your degree based on life experience—it probably isn’t legitimate.

Tip #6: Look for the runaround. Ask plenty of questions when talking to recruiters. If you get the runaround instead of clear, concise answers, it’s a bad sign.

Tip #7: Never be willing to lie. Some recruiters encourage lying on financial aid forms in order to get more money. Not only is that a bad idea, it could get you fined and thrown in jail.

If you or someone you know has been solicited by a shady for-profit school, contact your BBB by calling 509.455.4200 or emailing info@spokane.bbb.org


ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2013, people turned to BBB more than 132 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. BBB Serving E. Washington, N. Idaho & Montana, founded in 1912, is one of 112 local, independent BBBs across North America.  

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