Another day, another USC scandal. No, we’re not talking about the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal or even the more recent scheme involving trading county contracts for graduate school admission for an LA city councilman’s son. We reported on the latter scandal about three weeks ago. Did you really think USC could go three weeks without another breaking scandal? Think again! In this latest scandal, one we’ll dub USC Online, the alma mater of O.J. Simpson hired a for-profit company to apparently aggressively get students to pay big bucks to enroll in its online social work master’s program.
As Lisa Bannon and Andrea Fuller report for The Wall Street Journal in a piece entitled “USC Pushed a $115,000 Online Degree. Graduates Got Low Salaries, Huge Debts.,” “The nonprofit school used its status-symbol image to attract students across the country, including low-income minority students it targeted for recruitment, often with aggressive tactics. Most students piled on debt to afford the tuition, which last year reached $115,000 for the two-year degree. The majority never set foot on the posh Los Angeles campus but paid the same rate for online classes as in-person students. Recent USC social-work graduates who took out federal loans borrowed a median $112,000. Half of them were earning $52,000 or less annually two years later, a Wall Street Journal analysis of newly released U.S. Education Department data found. Compared with other master’s-degree programs at top-tier U.S. universities, the USC social-work degree had one of the worst combinations of debt and earnings.”
Remember Trump University? Or how about James Franco’s acting school? The University of Southern California must have forgotten that it’s not the University of Phoenix at its Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. And boy has this particular school within USC been in the news — in a bad way — a lot of late. After all, the LA city councilman was involved in a bribery scheme involving the then-dean of this very School of Social Work at USC (a job at the school for his son along with a scholarship was on the line). Oh and did we mention that a former USC athletic official, Donna Heinel, pleaded guilty this week in the Varsity Blues scandal? It just keeps on coming for USC!
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