State and federal funding programs are essential to our nation’s schools, higher-education institutions, and research facilities. Tax dollars that make those programs possible should be spent on creating and maintaining a better educated population. Our taxes should not be spent on padding the bank accounts of unscrupulous education contractors, making unnecessary student loans, or funding research that could better be paid for by private interests.
Whistleblowers who discover education and research fraud schemes include school recruiters, counselors, administrators, researchers, instructors, and accounting personnel. All of these insiders may use the False Claims Act to put a stop to education and research fraud.
Blow the Whistle on Recruiting Fraud
For-profit colleges often recruit students aggressively, sometimes through improper means. It is illegal to pay recruiters based on the number of students they recruit but many schools continue to engage in the practice. Some recruiters are paid cash bonuses on a per-head basis, even for students who appear to be habitual drug users or unable to write coherently. Other schools compensate enrollment counselors with gifts and non-cash awards. If you have been pressured with gifts to meet enrolment quotas, you can blow the whistle and put a stop student recruiting fraud.
Stop Admission Qualifications Fraud
Some colleges rig the admissions process to make certain that applicants who qualify for financial aid are admitted. Admissions employees may be told to enroll as many students as they can, with little regard to whether the students are academically qualified. Some admissions officers are asked to admit students with no high school diploma or GED equivalent. College employees may even be instructed to create or falsify high school diplomas to provide phony documentation of an applicant’s qualifications for admission.
Institution employees serving as proctors on Title IV “ability to benefit” testing may be asked to certify that they witnessed an applicant take the exam when in fact they did not. School staff or instructors may be told to help applicants answer questions correctly, give applicants more time to complete questioning than is allowed, or permit students to retake tests until they pass.
Don’t continue to be part of the problem. Help set future students up for success by putting an end to this fraudulent practice.
End Financial Aid Eligibility Fraud
Some schools falsify applicants’ financial aid information so they can enroll students who are not eligible for government grants or loans. Financial advisors may be instructed to teach applicants how to lie successfully on financial aid applications. Counselors may be told to instruct students not to report savings. Student advisors sometimes suggest that applicants can change their FAFSA application to show that they have financial dependents when they don’t, or have more dependents than they actually do. Or school counselors may misinform applicants that the government will not pursue students who default on government loans. Some advisors may be told to complete fraudulent applications for their students.
Some colleges ask their instructors and staff to tamper with applicants’ qualification results to ensure that students appear eligible for financial aid tied to school performance, even when the students are not eligible. Staff may be instructed to change failing scores to passing on placement tests. Instructors are sometimes pressured to inflate grades or alter students’ attendance records.
Many for-profit schools depend heavily on student financial aid payments from state and federal programs. College academic and financial advisors are sometimes pressured to falsify records to ensure that unqualified students remain enrolled and that the schools continue to receive the funding. School advisors and college administrators have informed the government of the following sorts of improper conduct:
- Misrepresenting costs and aid eligibility under Title IV’s “90/10” rule requiring that for-profit colleges receive a minimum of 10% of school revenue from non-Title IV funds
- Falsifying job records of former students to make it appear that graduates are more successful than they are at finding employment
- Recruiting unqualified students, including homeless shelter residents and parolees
- Failing to show that schools receiving federal grants and loans have graduation and job placement rates of at least 70%.
Financial aid eligibility fraud takes money away from deserving students and robs them of opportunity. If you have been pressured to falsify students’ financial aid applications, you have the power to end it. Report financial aid eligibility fraud.
Shutdown Research Grant Fraud
Unfortunately, there is also a considerable amount of fraud among academics and scientists who rely on federal funding for their research. Administrators, researchers, and graduate students have collaborated with the government in prosecuting fraud related to federal grants, including:
- Grant applications that include inflated salaries and overhead expenses
- Lies or inaccuracies on grant applications
- Failure to report other funding sources
- Overstating successful research results to obtain further grant funding
- Misdirecting grant money after it is received
Whistleblower Insiders Use False Claims Act to Fight Educational and Research Fraud
Employee insiders are often the best positioned to discover education and research misconduct and notify the government. To encourage whistleblowers to come forward, the federal False Claims Act contains qui tam provisions that allow informants to file suit on behalf of the government and keep a portion of any recovery.
Education fraud whistleblowers need to learn their rights. The attorneys at Waters & Kraus are prepared to give government collaborators the legal assistance they need. Contact us or call our whistleblower lawyers at 800.226.9880 to learn more about our education and research fraud practice and how we can help.