William “Rick” Singer used money from affluent parents to pay university coaches to get their kids into prestigious institutions.
For their part in the scandal, more than 50 people have been found guilty.
Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, who were clients of Singer, are among those found guilty.
The punishment handed down to Singer on Wednesday was the longest of any parent, coach, or other defendants found guilty in the scandal.
Singer was also mandated to pay $10 million (£8.29 million) in restitution to the federal government by US District Judge Rya W. Zobel.
Since Singer did not pay taxes on the money he received as part of the conspiracy, prosecutors had asked for a six-year prison sentence for him as well as a payment of $10.6 million (£8.79 million) to the US Internal Revenue Service.
Singer’s attorneys, however, contended that due to his cooperation in the investigation into the scandal known as “Operation Varsity Blues,” Singer’s punishment should be 12 months of home confinement or six months in prison.
Singer, a consultant, said in 2019 that he contributed to the scandal surrounding US college admissions by sending funds from parents to coaches, who would then falsely sign up non-athletic youngsters as recruits and subsequently admit them to college.
Additionally, he encouraged students to cheat on college entrance examinations.
The incident gained notice since some of the parents were revealed to be well-known figures or powerful CEOs of significant corporations.
This includes Ms. Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, who were accused of paying Singer $500,000 in bribes to have their two daughters accepted into the University of Southern California (USC) as fictitious rowing team recruits.
Due to her involvement in the case, Ms. Loughlin spent two months in jail in 2020, whereas her husband was sentenced to five months.
Prosecutors claim that Singer received more than $25 million in total from his clients and gave more than $7 million in bribes to coaches at prestigious US universities like USC, Yale, and Stanford.
On Wednesday, Singer apologised to the court for his behaviour and said that his moral compass had been off, “warped by the lessons my father taught me about competition. I embraced his belief that embellishing or even lying to win was acceptable as long as there was victory.”
Singer claimed in a court document from November that he had “lost everything,” including all of his possessions, and that he now resides in a trailer park where he teaches senior citizens and kids with autism how to paddleboard.