Did Obama Really Ask Moms To Go Back To School? Or Is It A Scam?

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I’m sure you have seen the ads.  One or more sassy moms, dressed in hip contemporary clothes, with sensible yet fashionable haircuts, sashays forward.  OBAMA ASKED MOMS TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL, the ad trumpets. Is it true?

In a word: no.  Not as such.

Although it’s pitched as “Obama’s Moms Return To School Government Grants,” these grants and scholarships have actually been in place for decades. 

The cornerstone of this ad campaign is the Pell Grant.  The Pell Grant was founded in 1965.  The Pell Grant is aimed at low-income students, and is a Financial grant that does not need to be paid back.

(Incidentally, the Pell Grant doesn’t cover as much as it used to.  According to Wikipedia, the Pell Grant covered 60% of student costs in 1990 dollars.  But in 2006, the average grant only covered 30% of a college student’s costs.)

Under President Obama (although not signed into legislation directly by him), the Pell Grant amount per student has been increased.  And the threshold for qualification (i.e. where the “low income” line falls) has decreased.  This has made more Pell Grant money available for more students. 

Single moms and stay-at-home moms, too?  Sure, why not!

Unfortunately, a lot of unaccredited, for-profit colleges (like the University of Phoenix, Kaplan, Argosy University, and others) are taking advantage of the Pell Grant system, and tricking people into applying.  These fraud college tuition scams promise you a free ride on the Pell Grant.  But as you can see, the Pell Grant does not cover all of your costs.

In August of 2010, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) looked into this situation, and found “deceptive practices” being used by all 15 for-profit colleges that they sampled. 

Four colleges were found to be engaging in practices which were completely fraudulent.  These colleges engaging in tuition fraud are Westech, Medvance Institute, Anthem Institute, and Westwood College.

Many of these non-traditional, for-profit colleges also engage in predatory practices.  Like pushing students into signing up for loans at exorbitant interest rates, lying about what happens if you default on your loans, and overly aggressive collections practices.

Long story short: you shouldn’t go to college because an animated gif told you to.  If you are a single mom or stay-at-home mom who is interested in starting college, I strongly recommend it! 

Start by contacting your local community college and speaking to their financial aid department.  Their new student advisers and counselors are there to help you navigate your way through the financial aid which is available to you.  And they won’t scam you!

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