Parents will often do anything for their children.
In March 2019, the College Admissions Scandal revealed just how far some parents were willing to go to give their kids a shot at a college education. And, just how far one company and several coaches were willing to go to make it happen.
Continue reading to learn about how the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice unfolded.
Key Details of the College Admissions Scandal
- Orchestrator: William “Rick” Singer, CEO of The Key, a college admissions prep company
- Number of families involved: More than 750
- Bribes paid: $25 million
- Total number of people charged: 51
- Number of parents charged: 33
- Timespan: 2011 to early 2019
- Schools involved: Georgetown University, Stanford University, The University of California, Los Angeles, The University of San Diego, The University of Southern California, The University of Texas, Wake Forest University, Yale University
One Scandal, Two Schemes
Ringleader William “Rick” Singer was identified early on as the orchestrator of the college admissions scandal. He used his company The Key to help wealthy parents give their kids a better chance at being accepted to a selective university. Singer arranged this through an SAT and ACT cheating ring and a sports recruitment scheme.
The sports recruitment scheme involved parents bribing coaches (through Singer) into giving their child a spot on their sports team regardless of his or her athletic ability. Coaches accepted these bribes, giving away spots on the team to these fake “players”. For example, actress Lori Laughlin allegedly paid $500,000 to have her two daughters listed as crew team recruits despite their lack of experience or interest in rowing.
The college entrance exam scheme involved parents paying proctors (through Singer) to correct answers on their child’s standardized tests. This ensured their child would meet the admissions requirements at their desired school. For example, actress Felicity Huffman pled guilty to paying $15,000 (disguised as a charitable donation) to have a proctor correct her daughter’s SATs.
Rick Singer pled guilty to both schemes and the related charges in March 2019. He was charged with racketeering, money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. During his hearing, Singer said, “I created a side door that would guarantee families would get in.” He faces up to 65 years in prison along with a $1.25 million fine.
During the investigation, Singer wore a wire for the FBI, helping them bring down his own company.
Notable Parties Charged in the College Admissions Scandal
More than 50 parents, coaches, and exam proctors pled guilty to or still face charges related to the college admissions scandal.
Celebrity Parents Involved
Lori Loughlin & Mossimo Giannulli
Mossimo Giannulli, fashion designer, and Lori Loughlin, an actress best known for her role as Aunt Becky on Full House, allegedly spent $500,000 to have their children listed as crew team recruits despite them having never rowed.
Loughlin and Giannulli have both maintained their innocence and their case is headed to trial in Fall 2019.
Felicity Huffman, actor best known for playing Lynette Scavo on Desperate Housewives, pled guilty to giving $15,000 to William Singer to have a proctor alter her oldest daughter’s SAT scores. She received a 14 day jail sentence, a year of supervised probation, 250 hours of community service, and a $30,000 fine.
Buckingham is the founder and president of boutique marketing firm Trendera and author of “The Modern Girl’s Guide to Sticky Situations.” She pled guilty to paying William Singer $50,000 in exchange for having someone take the ACT in place of her son. Buckingham was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
She is awaiting sentencing.
Click here for more details on the charges for all 33 parents.
College Coaches Involved
Several college coaches have also been charged with their involvement in the college admissions scandal. Most have been removed from their positions or placed on a temporary leave of absence pending an internal investigation by the college.
Michael Center: This men’s head tennis coach at the University of Texas at Austin pled guilty to conspiracy charges and accepting $100,000 in bribes.
Gordon Ernst: This former head tennis coach at Georgetown plead not guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge. His indictment alleges that he accepted $2.7+ million in bribes.
William Ferguson: This women’s volleyball coach at Wake Forest is charged with one count of racketeering conspiracy and is accused of accepting $100,000 in bribes to help a student move off the wait list.
Laura Janke: This former assistant women’s soccer coach at the University of Southern California plead guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering charges. Janke admitted to creating fake athletic profiles to help Singer’s clients look more legitimate. Her sentencing hearing is on October 17, 2019.
Ali Khosroshahin: This former head women’s soccer coach at the University of Southern California pled guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit racketeering. He accepted $200,000+ in bribes from Rick Singer in exchange for recruiting four fake soccer players.
Rudolph Meredith: This former women’s head soccer coach at Yale pled guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit racketeering. He accepted $1+ million in bribes. He must forfeit more than $865,000.
Jorge Salcedo: This former men’s head soccer coach at the University of California, Los Angeles plead not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering. Prosecutors allege that he accepted $200,000 in exchange for recruiting two fake student athletes.
John Vandemoer: This former sailing coach at Stanford pled guilty to racketeering charges and of accepting $610,000 in bribes. Vandemoer was sentenced to one day in prison, to two years supervised release, and to pay a $10,000 fine.
Jovan Vavic: This former water polo coach at the University of Southern California plead not guilty to accepting $250,000 in bribes. USC fired him.
A Brief Timeline of the College Admissions Scandal
The college admissions scandal, also nicknamed Operation Varsity Blues, started in 2011, but the scheme didn’t come into the public eye until early 2019. The Justice Department and the FBI investigated the case for over a year before charging any of the involved parties.
Look at some key moments of the scandal thus far:
Federal prosecutors in Boston charge 50+ people, including ringleader Rick Singer. Rick Singer pleads guilty to four charges.
Twelve of the defendants plead not guilty and the U.S. Department of Education notifies all 8 involved schools that they are under investigation.
Yale’s former women’s soccer coach, Rudy Meredith, pleads guilty to accepting $900,000 in bribes in exchange for recruiting students to the soccer team despite their lack of ability.
Peter Jan Sartorio becomes the first parent (out of 33) to plead guilty, admitting he paid $15,000 to have someone correct his daughter’s ACT answers.
Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli and 14 other parents are indicted with conspiring to commit fraud and launder money.
Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli plead not guilty to their charges of money laundering conspiracy and mail fraud.
Michael Center, the former men’s tennis coach and the University of Texas, pleads guilty to accepting a $100,000 bribe.
It is discovered two families allegedly paid millions of dollars to get their children into Stanford and Yale
Federal prosecutors discover that even more families are involved in the scandal than originally suspected
Felicity Huffman pleads guilty to charges of fraud conspiracy, admitting she paid $15,000 to have her daughter’s SAT scores improved.
Georgetown University expelled two students whose parents participated in the college admissions scandal. In return, the students filed a civil action suit against the college.
John Vandemoer, former Stanford sailing coach, is the first party sentenced. He is sentenced to one day in prison, to two years supervised release, and to pay a $10,000 fine.
Felicity Huffman is the first parent sentenced. Her sentence is 14 days in prison, a year of supervised probation, 250 hours of community service, and a $30,000 fine.
Devin Sloane, an LA-based business executive, is sentenced to four months in prison, 500 hours of community service over two years, two years of supervised probation, and a fine of $95,000.
Stephen Semprevivo, an LA-based business executive, is sentenced to four months in prison and a $100,000 fine. He previously pled guilty to paying $400,000 to have son admitted to Georgetown as a fake tennis recruit.
Still to Come with the College Admissions Scandal
The aftermath of the college admissions scandal is still coming to light as federal prosecutors discover more involved parties.
In the coming months, sentencing hearings for those who have already pled guilty will continue. Prosecutors will also keep looking for more involved parties to charge with their participation in the scandal. These parties may include parents, students, and coaches.
The trial of Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli is anticipated to take place in Fall 2019.
Compare the Best Student Loan Refinance Rates
Here are our top student loan refinance picks for 2019
Sort By :
Student Debt Relief Loan Refinancing Advertiser Disclosure
College Ave: College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. (1)The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as the borrower or cosigner, if applicable, enrolls in auto-pay and authorizes our loan servicer to automatically deduct your monthly payments from a valid bank account via Automated Clearing House (“ACH”). The rate reduction applies for as long as the monthly payment amount is successfully deducted from the designated bank account and is suspended during periods of forbearance and certain deferments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. (2)$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees. (3)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 1/27/2021. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
ELFI: Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. To qualify for refinancing or student loans consolidation through ELFI, you must have at least $15,000 in student loan debt and must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved post-secondary institution.
LendKey: Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
CommonBond: Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate.
Splash Financial: Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval.com
Earnest: To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest’s fixed-rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with autopay) to 7.89% APR (with autopay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with autopay) to 7.27% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms of 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 0.26% and 5.03% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 23, 2019 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay Discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/23/19. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice.
Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 303 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
Ascent: Ascent Student Loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 2/1/2023 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, and a cosigner, and are only available to our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores.