Department of Education uses secret shoppers to root out fraud – New Hubs Uk

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Higher education is the path to financial security for many. But unfortunately some colleges take advantage of people looking to improve their future prospects. To deter and catch bad actors, the Department of Education (ED) has called on many advocates to establish a Secret Shopper program that works to deter and reduce predatory practices in higher education. is responding to

Most universities treat their students well and share accurate information about their programs, alumni income and employment rates. However, some institutions are not very conscientious and have been known to use misrepresentation or outright deception to lure students into programs that offer substandard education. These programs have no transferable credits to students, do not increase income, and often result in high student debt.

Secret shoppers go through the admissions and financial aid process at the colleges and universities selected for the program and compare the information they receive with federal regulations to ensure that the university does not provide lip service to federal regulations. .

The goal of the Secret Shopper program is to discourage harmful practices from the outset and hold universities accountable for predatory behavior when necessary. The Federal Student Aid (FSA) Enforcement Office runs the program and uses the information it collects to assist in its work. Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos disbanded the FSA enforcement team during the Trump administration.

In a press release, FSA Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray said: Our focus, as always, is to ensure that students, borrowers, families and taxpayers are not ripped off to make quick money. ”

Rather than trying to find colleges whose admissions staff make one-off mistakes, the Secret Shopper program focuses on colleges that are involved in patterns of predatory and illegal behavior. Focuses on uncovering instances where educational institutions are not complying with federal laws and regulations. This includes misrepresenting things like placement rates, completion rates, dropout rates, and whether credits earned transfer to other colleges. Her FSA enforcement bulletin announcing new program holds predatory colleges accountable, including FSA using evidence from program to protect students and ban them from participating in federal student aid I pointed out that it is possible.

FSA Chief Operating Officer Kristen Donoghue said: “Schools involved in fraud or misconduct have been notified that we may be listening and will clean up accordingly. “But schools that treat current and future students fairly and act lawfully need not be afraid of secret purchases.”

Over the last 20 years, a great many universities, mostly in the for-profit sector, have used students to soak up federal financial aid dollars. Students attending schools such as the ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges often failed to complete their degrees or land the promised jobs after graduation. These same institutions have cost taxpayers billions of dollars to forgive student loans who were scammed and didn’t get the quality education they were promised.

In addition to the Secret Shopper program, the FSA now has a Tip Line that you can use to submit concerns about misrepresentation or fraud at your financial institution to our enforcement team.

With over $120 million in federal financial assistance coming out of the FSA each year, there’s a lot in store. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous colleges continue to use public funds to make a profit and keep their executives rich. The FSA continues to strengthen its role in protecting taxpayers and students from the bad guys. Will universities pay attention?

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Department of Education uses secret shoppers to root out fraud – New Hubs Uk

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