ABC News Investigates For-Profit Education Again: Recruiters Caught Offering Bad Advice

Some for-profit institution recruiters caught still offering false assurances.

ByABC News
November 11, 2010, 1:21 PM

Nov. 12, 2010— -- As a former Criminal Justice professor for the for-profit Remington College in Houston, Larry Stewart said he was shocked when he discovered several convicted felons in his criminal justice classes.

"My very first class, I had a husband and wife who, he had done 13 years at the Texas Department of Corrections for a home invasion, robbery," he said. "And his wife had done three years for trafficking drugs across state lines."

According to Stewart, the felons in his class told him that recruiters for the school said they could work in law enforcement.

"I said, 'And you want to do what?'" he said. "They said, 'Well, we want to go into criminal justice.' And I said, 'You can never get a job in criminal justice.' And they said, 'Well, the recruiters said that we can.'"

It isn't the first time recruiters for for-profit schools have been accused of misleading people. ABC News conducted an investigation in August that exposed recruiters from the country's biggest for-profit college, University of Phoenix, for giving incorrect advice to prospective education majors.

In that investigation, we sent in one of our producers undercover who asked about becoming a teacher in New York State. The recruiter told him a degree from the University of Phoenix would enable him to take the state certification exams and become a certified teacher in New York. This was not true. The recruiter also encouraged the ABC News producer to take out the maximum amount of financial aid allowable, including interest-bearing student loans -- even if it was more than he needed.

Experts say students who have attended for-profit schools are defaulting on their federal student loans at an alarming rate, which, they add, may contribute to the next big financial crisis.

After speaking with Stewart, ABC News conducted another undercover investigation recently, this time at Remington College. We sent in a prospective student with a felony conviction, undercover, to talk to a recruiter about enrolling in the college's criminal justice program.

Student: "I have -- a felony from 2005."

Recruiter: "OK, 2005, OK. And what is it?"

Student: "Theft"

Recruiter: "We will definitely work with you, especially when you know it up front. And that helps us a lot. When we know your history and your situation up front. We know exactly what, you know, kind of a target area you wanna be in -- sheriff's department, corrections."

The recruiter also told our undercover student that he couldn't be a cop, but there were a variety of opportunities in law enforcement for people with felony convictions.