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Alexandria Computer Learning Centers Cited for Recruitment Policies

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By Sara Sciammacco, Capitol News Connection

A federal investigation that spanned over 11 years found evidence of illegal recruitment practices at colleges and universities that receive federal financial aid, including one local school in Virginia. A follow-up report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) calls for stronger enforcement and oversight of a ban that prohibits the schools from handing out bonuses to people who help increase enrollment.

GAO investigators say Computer Learning Centers in Alexandria based employees' salaries and bonuses on enrollment numbers. The violations were substantiated in 2000.

In the latest GAO report, investigators claim schools nationwide continued to get away with aggressive recruiting practices because of regulations added in 2002 that increased the burden on federal education officials to prove schools violated the ban and lessened financial penalties.

White House officials plan to eliminate the regulations next month. Rich Williams is a higher education advocate for the Public Interest Research Group.

"The main opposition are folks who continue to want to weave in and out of the rules to get advantage wherever they can and increase profits," Williams says.

Critics of the White House plan are concerned the new law will lack clarity and school recruiters will have a difficult time knowing whether they are in compliance.

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