BOSTON  — "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty Monday in the college admissions bribery scheme, the biggest name to do so in a scandal that has underscored the lengths to which some wealthy parents will go to get their children into top universities.

The Emmy-winning actress, 56, could face prison time after she admitted to participating in the nationwide scam, in which authorities say parents bribed coaches, rigged entrance exams or both to game the admissions system.

Huffman pleaded guilty in federal court to paying an admissions consultant $15,000 to have a proctor correct her older daughter's answers on the SAT. She also considered going through with the plan for her younger daughter before ultimately deciding not to, authorities say.

The consultant, Rick Singer, arranged for the cheating by having students obtain permission for extra time on the exams through diagnoses for things like learning disabilities, and then taking the exams at his testing center, prosecutors say.

In court, Huffman explained her daughter had been seeing a neuropsychologist for years and been getting extra time on tests since she was 11 — an apparent attempt to explain that her daughter's doctor had no part in the scheme.

"I just didn't want to create the impression that neuropsychologists have any part in this," a tearful Huffman said before stopping to collect herself.

Sentencing was set for Sept. 13. Because she agreed to plead guilty, prosecutors said they would recommend four months in prison, but the judge could choose not to put her behind bars at all.

She arrived at court holding the hand of her brother Moore Huffman Jr. and did not say anything to journalists. In court, she wore a gray dress and a sweater and sat flanked by her attorneys while her brother watched from the front row. Her husband, actor William H. Macy, didn't attend.