Everything You Need to Know about the College Admissions Scandal

By Mavis Heasley

If you haven’t heard by now, let me be the one to fill you in: rich parents are buying their kids’ college admissions. I know, shocker. Though this isn’t your typical I’ll-donate-a-large-sum-of-money-to-your-school-if-you-accept-my-kid-type of bribe--it’s criminal fraud, and felony charges are not out of the question. Thanks to William Rick Singer, founder and CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation and The Edge College & Career Network, LLC, students were being admitted into top universities, but not on their own merit, of course; a large sum of money would be paid by parents for Singer to pull some strings, and, boom, admissions galore.


Let’s talk about the implicated--who, what, and where, to be exact. The alleged methods of Singer’s scheme include the following:

-Using a charitable organization (Key Worldwide Foundation) to conceal the bribes

-Bribing coaches and administrators of select universities to falsely nominate the students as recruited athletes to gain admission

-Utilization of test proctors and administrators to facilitate cheating on college entrance exams; and/or

-Bribing a third party to take classes for another student and submitting the grade as said student’s own


Singer’s clientele consists of university coaches, businessmen/women, actresses, and a fashion designer. The most prominent figures in the case are actresses Felicity Huffman, most known for her role on Desperate Housewives, and Fuller House star Lori Loughlin; Loughlin and her family, though, seem to be garnering the most attention. Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli, founder and designer of clothing brand Mossimo, allegedly paid $500,000 in bribes through Singer to have their daughters Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose admitted to the University of Southern California as rowing recruits, despite neither participating in the sport. Olivia Jade is a well-known social media influencer who was partnered with Sephora, HP, Tresemme, and more; since the allegations against her fraudulent acceptance to USC have become public, the aforementioned companies have cut ties with Giannulli. Loughlin has also been fired from Hallmark, with whom she has acted in many films for and starred in the long-running series “When Calls the Heart.” Rather than taking the sports recruitment route, Huffman allegedly made a $15,000 payment to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter, Sophia Grace. Other schools involved in the scandal are Georgetown University, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Los Angeles, University of San Diego, University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest University, and Yale University.


Officials have estimated that over 50 people have been involved in the scandal, and over $25 million has been paid in bribes through Singer. Though those who have been arrested due to their involvement have posted bond, many people are pressing charges against them. Lawsuits have been filed against universities and individuals on behalf of parents and students who applied to the schools involved in the scam. Multiple news sources and prominent figures such as Elizabeth Warren have commented on the scandal, blaming America’s broken college admissions system and the wealthy elite for using their privilege to an immoral (and illegal) degree.  


The investigation into the college admissions scandal remains active. Those involved, including Singer, are facing court hearings and possible jail time.