In 2012, almost 40 million Americans used more than 150 billion dollars of government assistance to pay for college.
Both public and private schools rely on these federal funds in order to operate, but federal financial aid is only available to students in accredited higher education programs. Accreditation is the process of validating that a college, university or other institute of higher learning meets a set of standards. The government doesn’t have the resources to check the qualifications of the more than 20,000 degree granting colleges and universities in the United States. So, it relies on federally-approve accrediting agencies to check that programs that receive government money meet minimum standards. These standards are set by committees made up of faculty members of accredited schools.
Accrediting agencies are for profit businesses. They are paid by the school that they accredit. If a school is not accredited by one agency, they may seek out accreditation from an agency with more relaxed standards. So, it is possible that an agency with low accreditation standards may attract more business and generate more profit than an agency with high standards. This poses a conflict of interest.
Because there are accrediting agencies that are willing to compromise their standards for a fee, a growing number of American students are finding themselves with high college debt and no career qualifications. These students are often unable to repay their government loans. Taxpayers must cover this loss.
The government cannot oversee all schools and all accrediting agencies, so it relies on whistleblowers to report education fraud and the misuse of education funds. Education fraud is a violation of the False Claims Act and whistleblowers are eligible for financial rewards.
Examples of Education Fraud
- An accrediting agency relaxes its accreditation standards in order to increase profits
- An accrediting agency provides accreditation to a college that does not meet minimum standards
- A school provides false certifications or false information to an accrediting agency in order to receive accreditation
- A college pays its recruiters to enroll students and provides incentives, prizes or kickbacks for reaching enrollment goals
- A college provides payment or incentives to staff members who enroll students in federal financial aid programs
- A college enrolls and grants financial aid to students that do not meet the qualifications for federal financial aid
- A financial aid officer encourages students to falsify academic credentials in order to receive federal funding for their education
Education Fraud Costs Millions – Whistleblowers Can Help
Employees of for-profit schools and accrediting agencies can help stop education fraud. If you have information about education fraud, we urge you to contact our office immediately. Call 800-432-9461and ask to schedule a free confidential consultation. An attorney will review your information and determine if you have a whistleblower claim and whether you are eligible for a whistleblower reward.