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Federal Trade Commission takes Strong Action against For-Profit School Targeting Service Men and Women

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Earlier this week, the Federal Trade Commission announced an enforcement action against the for-profit trade school Ashworth College. The federal agency charged the Georgia-based online college with misrepresenting their programs, leaving students with educations that could not lead to proper credentials or careers.

CRL senior policy counsel Maura Dundon offers the following remarks:

The complaint against Ashworth College gets to the heart of the troubling and persistent for-profit schools matter: students were purposefully misled, often through aggressive and deceptive marketing tactics, into believing their investment in college would lead to a job.

According to the FTC, Ashworth claimed that its programs could lead directly to a career – but the Ashworth programs were sometimes not properly accredited to allow a student to receive the state license they needed to pursue careers. Ashworth also claimed that applicants could transfer their credits to other schools, but some students found this to be impossible.

And if deceiving vulnerable students were not enough, the FTC found that Ashworth specifically targeted service members and their families. Ashworth trained its sales representatives to aggressively enroll students, including military students who could use their military benefits to pay for tuition. Salespeople were instructed to find out the reasons why a student wanted to go to college and 'use those against her' in trying to convince her to enroll. The school went so far as to fire representatives who did not enroll enough students.

These kinds of high-pressure, profit-driven, abusive practices have no place in institutions of higher education. The FTC has taken the right step to protect students and service men and women.

For more information, please contact: Catherine An, catherine.an@responsiblelending.org, 202-349-1878

For more information, contact Catherine An at catherine.an@responsiblelending.org or 202-349-1878.