In a recent court filing, a former admissions officer at a for-profit college in Utah testified that the school instructed recruiters to make prospective students “feel hopeless” and gave the recruiters financial incentives for meeting enrollment goals, according to the Deseret News.

The document, filed in federal court in Salt Lake City, is part of a lawsuit by three students accusing recruiters at Everest College of lying to them about program costs and whether their credits from other schools would transfer. The Deseret News highlighted details from the affidavit by former school employee Shayler White:

In the declaration, Shayler White said he worked for Everest College from December 2009 until September 2010, when he was laid off for failing to meet enrollment quotas. He said admissions workers could receive a $5,000 salary bump for enrolling 36 students in six months. They were instructed to use "power words" like "career," "professional" and "successful" to sway potential recruits, White said.

"The tactics also included questions designed at putting down the prospective student, making them feel hopeless, bad about their current situation and stuck at a dead end, in order to make enrolling in school look like the best solution to the problem," he wrote.

An Everest College spokesman told the Deseret News that many of the statements in the affidavit were "factually wrong or false," and admissions representatives are instructed to "avoid negative appeals."

Over the weekend, the Florida attorney general’s office announced it was investigating recruiting practices at three additional for-profit colleges. The announcement brings Florida’s probe of the industry to a total of eight schools, including Everest. As of November 15, Everest had the most student complaints filed with the Florida attorney general’s office.

The school has said in the past that though high default rates on student loans are “an issue for a number of our campuses,” default rates have more to do with a school’s demographics than the schools themselves, and campuses with more low-income students generally have higher default rates.

That’s also the argument used by the industry at large, which has warned that the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed regulation to crack down on for-profit schools would particularly hurt minority and low-income students. (According to a report released last week, the schools “saddle the most vulnerable students with heavy debt,” according to non-profit research and advocacy group Education Trust.)

We’ve noted that students at other for-profit colleges have also accused school recruiters of misleading them. In August, government investigators went undercover at 15 for-profit colleges and found that all of the schools made “deceptive or questionable statements” to the investigators who were posing as applicants.

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