The scam was allegedly coordinated by a man in California, who ran a business helping students get into the college of their choice.
In most cases, the students did not know their admission to the schools was contingent on a bribe.
In one instance highlighted by federal prosecutors, it is alleged that the head women's soccer coach at Yale was paid $400,000 to accept a student even though the applicant did not play soccer.
The scandal is being called the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted.
Still hanging in the balance is the fate of the privileged scholars, at least some of whom may not have known about their parents' alleged acts.
The scheme aimed to take advantage of the two years of the anxiety parents across the United States often endure as they put high school-age children through the standardised tests needed to gain entry into heavily competitive colleges and universities.
"We're not talking about donating a building so a school is more likely to take your son or daughter, we're talking about deception or fraud", Lelling said.
Parents spent anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million to guarantee their children's admission, officials said.
The parents were then advised to choose one of two test centres that Mr Singer's company said it had control over: one in Houston, Texas, and the other in West Hollywood, California.
Many colleges are taking action.
"There can be no separate college admission system for the wealthy, and, I'll add, there will not be a separate criminal justice system, either". He was the school's director of college entrance exam preparation. The witness says that he explained to the couple how the scheme would work.
The mastermind behind the plot, William "Rick" Singer, has pleaded guilty in the case and is cooperating with authorities.
Macy talked about his daughter's "stressful" college application process earlier this year.
He was charged Tuesday along with almost 50 other people and faces conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering counts.
The actress, who is married to William H. Macy, is expected to appear in a Boston court on March 29 for a preliminary hearing into the case.
Loughlin is scheduled to make her first court appearance Wednesday afternoon.
Lori's "Full House" and "Fuller House" co-stars John Stamos and Jodie Sweetin were approached by TMZ photogs for their reaction to the news, but they chose not to speak out on the matter. Her husband, Giannulli, also was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Like Giannulli, who was released on $1 million bail Tuesday, Loughlin put up her home for collateral as part of the bond.
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