As a Florida consumer fraud lawyer, I am seeing more cases of for-profit college scams. The economy is partly to blame since many people out of work are turning to education as a means to improve their employment opportunities. And where there is a need, there are always people to take advantage of it.

Schools are popping up everywhere around Miami, and some of them offer legitimate, convenient and quick college educations like Miami’s Everest Institute. However, a number of recent McColleges set up shop on the Internet in the form of an “on line college;” promising a better life. Sadly, many students who enroll in these diploma mills end up burdened with huge debt, no job and a degree from an uncredited college.

And where is our government to protect us from this? Not surprisingly, the Bush Administration made it easier than ever for profit colleges to open their doors with little regulation.

What can Florida’s would-be students do to protect themselves?

1. Licensed. Verify that the school has a valid license to operate.

2. Accreditation. Accreditation means that the school has been evaluated by a group of educators. Florida does not require that a school be accredited.

3. Graduate Success. Research recent graduates’ ability to repay loans by visiting the U.S. Department of Education‘s web site.

4. Read the catalog and make sure you understand the school’s refund policy.

5. Do not be pressured by recruiters and do not sign any contracts until you fully understand the terms.

Those who feel defrauded by their for-profit colleges should seek immediate legal advice from a competent Miami consumer fraud lawyer.