CONSUMERIST: When Comparing Colleges, It Would Help To Know If A School Is Under Investigation

Career College Central Summary:

  • Many consumers thinking of pursuing a higher education weigh the pros and the cons of a specific college: tuition, convenience, available areas of study. Last month, the Department of Education announced it would make the college shopping experience a little easier for prospective students by creating a consumer-facing online college comparison system. While the tool will no doubt be helpful, consumer advocates warn that, as it stands, the system will be missing a vital information: whether or not schools are party to investigation, lawsuits or settlements over harmful and deceptive practices.
  • Today, nearly 50 consumer advocacy groups sent a letter [PDF] to Education Secretary Arne Duncan urging the department to include publicly available data regarding federal or state investigations, lawsuits, or settlements in the upcoming comparison tool.
  • “Students deserve to know when a college’s practices are under heightened scrutiny from federal and state regulators, just as investors in publicly traded for-profit colleges are required to be notified of such events,” the letter states. “Students should not be kept in the dark.”
  • According to the signed organizations – which include The Institute for College Access & Success, National Consumer Law Center, Center for Responsible Lending and our colleagues at Consumer Union – providing such information could help steer students away from potentially harmful and deceptive educational institutions.

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