Tampering with Qualification Testing
Colleges commit fraud in admitting unqualified students, who then fail and default on student loans.
Some for-profit colleges have been caught rigging the admissions process by encouraging and even helping applicants cheat on admissions exams, then enrolling applicants into programs for which they are not qualified. This sets students up for failure and defrauds the government of federal tax dollars spent in providing financial aid to unqualified students.
School employees who witness such testing fraud can file False Claims Act lawsuits to help the government recover funds and put an end to these illegal practices. Under the qui tam provisions of the Act, a whistleblower is entitled to recover a percentage of the government's recovery.
Examples of for-profit colleges tampering with qualification testing include the following:
Committing student loan fraud by faking proctor forms for admissions testing.
A lawsuit filed by a former employee of South University Online, which is owned by Education Management Corp., alleges that the for-profit school submitted fake proctor forms for “ability to benefit” tests in violation of Title IV of the Higher Education Act.
A passing score on the “ability to benefit” test is required of non-high school graduates or graduates of non-accredited high schools in order to be eligible for financial aid under Title IV. The required proctor forms certify that students are observed by non-family members who attest that the students did not cheat during the exam. The suit also alleges that the school allowed students to retake the admissions exams as often as necessary until they passed. The law allows students to take such admissions tests only three times during the same year. The suit is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Committing admissions testing fraud.
In an undercover probe of for-profit colleges undertaken by the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO), college personnel at some institutions fraudulently tampered with the undercover applicants’ admissions testing results.
At one for-profit college, an applicant was told that she needed to correctly answer 18 questions on a 50-question test. The test proctor then coached the applicant during the exam. At another college, an undercover applicant was given 20 minutes to complete a 12-minute exam, and at a different college, the applicant was allowed to take the test twice to achieve a higher score.
By admitting unqualified students and setting them up for failure, colleges and universities defraud the federal government of the financial aid that it paid to unqualified students.
Our federal financial aid programs for university and college students have the potential to change lives. We cannot afford to have these valuable funds depleted through education fraud. Whistleblowers have a valuable role to play in bringing such fraud to light.