For-profit  colleges and universities have been a target of state and federal investigations for years.  I have written about this topic since 2012.  It should be noted that not all for-profit colleges are scams, but there are a large number of for-profit colleges, sometimes referred to as “diploma mills” that at times offer credit for your “life experience” and lure students in with promises of a helpful degree, but the students end up with a worthless degree and an empty wallet.  Sometimes the names of these scamming colleges and universities are confusingly similar to legitimate colleges.  For instance, Columbia State University is a diploma mill while Columbia University is an eminent Ivy League school.

In 2019, the University of Phoenix settled charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that it used deceptive advertising to attract students.  These ads falsely implied that the University of Phoenix worked with companies such as AT&T, Yahoo and Microsoft to create job opportunities for students and to shape its programs for the jobs. Pursuant to the settlement,  the University of Phoenix paid 50 million dollars to the FTC and the FTC is now sending refunds to 147,500 former University of Phoenix students.

Members of the armed forces and student veterans are often targeted by deceptive marketing by some for-profit schools who falsely claim they are affiliated with the U.S. Military.

Recently the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) send notices to 70 for-profit colleges that the FTC will be taking legal action against any schools that make false promises about their graduates’ job and earnings prospects and that such actions will carry significant financial penalties.


If you are considering attending a for-profit school, first check it out with the United States Department of Education’s website at to make sure it is an accredited institution.

You also should investigate whether a local college, university or community college would be more cost effective for you.  For-profit colleges and universities are often more expensive than these other alternatives without offering any distinct advantages.  Also, check out the graduation rates of any for profit college you are considering and finally, investigate the job prospects in your field of study.  Don’t just take the word of the college.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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