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Earlier this week, actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were charged for their involvement in the largest college admissions scam the United States has seen to date. Although these two celebrities are the biggest names involved in the scandal, they’re far from the only ones caught up in the scandal: close to 50 parents have been charged with participating in the scheme, which allegedly involved cheating on standardized tests and bribing officials at elite universities.
The story first broke on Tuesday, March 12, when William Rick Singer, CEO of college preparatory organization The Key, pleaded guilty to four charges. Singer was unflinching in admitting to the case’s prosecution that everything he has been accused of is entirely accurate. Since then, news headlines about the scandal have been all but impossible to avoid.
Money laundering plays a huge part in the scandal: Singer allegedly used The Key to disguise bribes that wealthy parents paid him — in some cases, as high as $6.5 million — to ensure their children’s admissions into the nation’s best universities. As CEO of The Key, Singer launched a nonprofit called the Key Worldwide Foundation, but it turns out this new organization was a decoy. All donations made to this organization were allegedly used for the bribes.
To understand the full breadth of this massive college admissions scam, one need look no further than the details of Lori Loughlin’s involvement. According to federal prosecutors, Loughlin (best known for her work on the hit TV show Full House) and her husband, the designer Mossimo Giannulli, were both charged with honest services mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Loughlin and Giannulli allegedly paid bribes of $500,000 to ensure their two daughters would be recruited to the University of Southern California’s crew team. Prosecutors state that there is ample evidence that both the daughters have never rowed in their lives.
The public backlash to the college admissions scandal has been constant and harsh, and as of yesterday, it took a legal shape. Two Stanford University students have filed a lawsuit against many of the schools involved in the scandal, including Yale, the University of Southern California, and the University of California Los Angeles. These students, Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods, claim that the scandal is evidence that they were both unfairly rejected at these top-tier schools. Olsen directly mentions Yale as a school to which she never would have spent the time and money applying had she known her outstanding application would be denied by a rigged system.
In the wake of this scandal, the notion of the college admissions system long being rigged has been a constant point of conversation. One person with prior involvement in the practices for which wealthy parents paid The Key wrote a lengthy Facebook post the evening the scandal broke. The post, which has since gone viral, explains in depth the advantages for which these wealthy parents paid. Although there is no shortage of news reporting on the scandal, this post is perhaps the best source for understanding the scam — and remembering that anyone with enough money can pay their children’s way into top-tier colleges.