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Posted on Mon, Jul 26, 2010 : 8:15 a.m.

ProPublica: 'Obama Mom' grant ads scam students

By Juliana Keeping

Bogus ads for “Obama Mom” grants have been luring students to provide personal information online. Then, for-profit schools that buy that information barrage them with recruiting phone calls, a Pro Publica investigation has found.

The “Obama Mom” grants, which have shown up on Facebook and elswhere on the web, are a scam. ProPublica, a non-profit investigative news service, quoted U.S. Department of Education Officials who said the grants don’t exist.

A single mother quoted in the article clicked on an ad that turned up in her e-mail, claiming President Barack Obama had created the special program for single mothers.

After she entered her personal information, including her name, age and information about the degree she wanted, a number of for-profit schools began calling, including the University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, Grand Canyon University and others.

Schools like these are paying online marketers for leads. Just a few years ago, online marketing firms, called lead generators, provided the same information to subprime mortgage industry.

According to the article, consumer advocates are shocked by the parallels and have criticized the schools for targeting low-income students, who take on debt to attend.

Juliana Keeping is a higher education reporter for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter



Mon, Jul 26, 2010 : 5:37 p.m.

I'm not sure I would title the article a "scam.". It's more akin to fraudulent advertising in order to "phish" personal information. The marketers are phishing for information, not stealing funds from the victims. Either way it's a crime.


Mon, Jul 26, 2010 : 12:21 p.m.

This is an EXTREMELY lucrative business for these colleges and the independent marketers. Anyone can sign up to promote these universities and earn anywhere from $15 to $30 per "lead" they generate. It's a great way of making money...when done responsibly. It is disappointing to see that people are being less than honest again...they will eventually be dropped as publishers by the marketing companies.