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For-profit Schools Banned From Lawless Recruiting Calls

December 27, 2013

Many a case can be made against for-profit colleges. They're outrageously expensive and the fact of the matter is that even a fancy degree from an elite institution — where the faculty are prize-winning geniuses, and your Nabokovian prose was the talk of the student meetings — can't guarantee you a job. But for those who do not have the luxury of family assistance or otherwise, it does guarantee you one thing with absolute certainty: a heaping pile of debt.

But it's not just financial burdens and broken promises these pricey institutions are notorious for delivering. They're also likely to pester the bejeezus out of you via phone calls. Operators employed by for-profit colleges can be ruthless in their recruiting methods. Calling past, current and prospective students to get seats filled, salaries paid and lofty reputations upheld. But now, thanks to new rules sanctioned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) under the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act, for-profit college recruiters have got to curb their calling habits — by a lot.

The rules place tighter restrictions on the ways in which for-profit colleges can make recruiting calls. They won't  be able to make calls to your cellphone without prior express written consent. In other words, that little box you either check or don't check on a website that asks whether it can offer you promotions, etc. will be on the sites of these institutions. Funny that it wasn't there before, right? Every other for-profit business has had this stipulation when pursuing sales calls. It's only fair that these colleges follow the same guidelines, and yet, the consequences for them could more dire than the norm, because they've been riding this wave for a long time. What to do now that it has crashed? 

In a comprehensive analysis of what the new laws could bring for-profit institutions, the Republic Report consulted Wells Fargo (News - Alert) analyst Trace Urdan, who described a potentially grim future. Recruiting by phone, however recklessly lawless it has been, has really worked for colleges. With the new calling ban in place, these for-profit schools will lose a strategy they have perfected over the years.

Just to adhere to the new law could come as a blow. Many of these institutions depend on autodialers who read from a prompt and call countless people a day. One little boo-boo on their part and they end up in court, forced to deal with a fine between $500 and $1500. So, not only will colleges likely face sagging enrollments, they'll have to up their calling centers and possibly invest in new systems and training methods. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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