Education Fraud

Education Fraud

Education fraud arises where educational institutions, many times for-profit universities, either violate the Higher Education Act (“HEA”), or otherwise make false promises to become eligible to receive government funds.

The U.S. government provides over $150 billion in education loans or grants per year participating in higher education programs. This funding is available only to students attending accredited programs.  Education institutions seeking accreditation must go through a multi-step process where an accrediting agency evaluates the program to measure its performance against the agency’s own standards and those listed by the Department of Education.  The institutions then must follow certain standards thereafter to maintain accreditation. 

False certifications by an educational institution to an accrediting agency, in order to become accredited and receive student funding, or to just maintain accreditation, can lead to federal False Claims Act liability.  If an agency accredits organizations that do not meet certain standards, that agency may also be subject to False Claim Act liability.

Common Forms of Education Fraud

The federal government does not have the resources to police all college programs profiting from federal financial aid.  And because there is so much involved in these programs, whistleblowers play a key role in protecting taxpayer dollars from being siphoned away by fraudulent educational practices.  While education fraud can take all forms, some of the most common to key-in on include the following:

A common practice of for-profit schools is to pay recruiters for enrolling students.  The HEA prohibits participating programs from offering or paying any type of commission, bonus, referral fee or other type of incentive based on student enrollment.

Many for-profit institutions have also been known to encourage (and sometimes help) students falsify their academic records in order to obtain federal loans or grants.  This is a potential violation of the False Claims Act. 

Under the HEA, participating institutions are required to enter into a Program Participation Agreement with the Department of Education, and abide by various statutory, regulatory and contractual requirements.  False certifications of these requirements may be a violation of the False Claims Act.

Education Fraud Attorneys

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP is committed to fighting for our whistleblower clients in their courageous efforts to combat fraud.  If you are aware of an instance where a government contractor is committing, or has committed, fraud on the government and are thinking of blowing the whistle, please contact Jonah H. Goldstein or James E. Barz.  We can help you understand how to file a claim, what compensation you may be entitled to for your effort, and what protections you are afforded as a whistleblower, and can answer any other questions you may have concerning the False Claims Act.