Price of the college admission scam

Another parent in the infamous college admissions scandal pleaded guilty in a Boston federal court Wednesday to paying $250,000 to get his son into to the University of Southern California as a fake volleyball recruit. Between fraudulent payoffs, legal fees, fines, and schools costs, how much did parents in the college admissions scam pay to get their kids into school?

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California entrepreneur Jeffrey Bizzack, of Solana Beach, California, was the 51st person charged in the egregious college admission scam that included celebrity parents Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. The FBI investigation exposed fraudulent test scores and bribing coaches to get students into elite schools including Georgetown, Stanford and Yale universities. Bizzack is the 23rd defendant to plead guilty, with many others contesting charges.

While we can’t know the average net worth of the parents involved in the college admissions scandal, we can look at what they were willing to spend and do to get their child into college. Parents involved in the scandal allegedly committed mail fraud, forged answers on standardized tests, paid off scam charities, and faked athletic recruitment. USC’s financial aid website estimates that a single year at the school will cost the average student $77,459. For the customary four years of school, it would cost $309,836 without yearly increases in tuition and cost of living. For Bizzack, in addition to the $250,000 – that we know he spent – it would cost $559,836 to send his son to college.

This week, Bizzack submitted the plea to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in the federal court. Prosecutors have also recommended nine months in prison, a $75,000 fine, and additional restitution to be decided during sentencing.

With the hopes of securing his son’s spot at USC, Bizzack allegedly donated $200,000 to a fake charity run by admissions center associate Rick Singer and sent a separate donation check in the sum of $50,000 to the school’s sports center as a recruit for the USC volleyball team. Bizzack’s son started at USC in the fall of 2018.

As so many students struggle to pay for college, these students and their families paid in excess of hundreds of thousands to get their children into school. College loan debt in the U.S. is over approximately $1.52 trillion and growing. The average American student has over $33,000 of student loan debt and most recently, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has proposed a bill to forgive student debt from 95 percent of borrowers in the U.S.

Singer allegedly then delivered monthly payments from the ‘charity’ to former senior-associate athletic director, Donna Heinel for Bizzack and other USC hopefuls involved in the scheme. Singer has since pleaded guilty, but Heinel has not.

Other families caught in the center of the USC recruitment scam include "Full House" star Lori Loughlin and fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who accused of paying $500,000 to get their daughters into USC. The couple will appear in court in August. Separately, "Desperate Housewives" actress Felicity Huffman has also admitted to paying $15,000 to have someone correct the answers on her daughter's SAT.

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Most parents involved in the scandal have alleged their children were unaware of the measures to secure their top college admissions.