PhotoThe recent college admissions scandal, including the arrest of two actresses accused of gaming the system to get their kids into a school, has focused attention on the competitive pressures to get a college degree.

A new study from Student Loan Hero suggests the scandal might easily happen again. A staggering 90 percent of parents of college-aged children said they would take “any course of action” to get a son or daughter into the college of their choice.

Actress Felicity Huffman was recently sentenced to 14 days in jail after entering a guilty plea to charges that she paid $15,000 to increase her daughter’s SAT scores. She was the first of 30 parents charged in the scandal to be sentenced.

The scandal prompted several students to file a class-action lawsuit against universities that were named in the federal investigation, claiming they deprived more deserving applicants of an education. 

The Student Loan Hero study suggests Huffman is not alone in being willing to do what it takes to make sure her children get into the “right” college. Nearly all the parents questioned in the survey said they would take any course of action to get their son or daughter into a desired college, as long as it “didn’t break the law or sacrifice their ethics,” a qualifier that might possibly be overlooked if it looked like the student would not be admitted.

Half willing to write a check

More than half of parents of college-aged children said they would even make a financial contribution to their child’s first-choice school -- which is not illegal but certainly would be made in hopes of improving the odds of admittance. Twenty-five percent of parents said they would be willing to spend at least $10,000 to help their child get into a good college.

Getting into college isn’t as simple as it once was. Until fairly recently, anyone who wanted to attend college and had the money for tuition could find a school that would be happy to have them as a student.

That changed when colleges became more selective about who would be admitted as students, which had the effect of making those schools seem more desirable. The Student Loan Hero study found that more than 71 percent of parents think getting into the “right” college will impact their child’s future earning potential, though there is little evidence to support that.

Interesting, nearly half of parents said they want to be “very involved” in their child’s college admissions process because they don’t think the school “will do enough.”

The study suggests that the pressures which caused a number of parents to allegedly break the rules to get their children into an elite school are widespread. The findings serve as a reminder for college administrators and law enforcement to remain vigilant when it comes to ambitious parents trying to game the system.

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