Editorial: Fraud is hurting classroom size

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Financial aid fraud in Stockton experienced a tremendous uprise in 2011.

More than 16 names were turned into the office of the Inspector General by Delta College to be investigated.

The fraud taking place mainly consisted of checks being stolen out of mailboxes, and fraud at check cashing stores.

The Office of the Inspector General is a Branch of the Department of Education who investigates and executes warrants for crimes consisting of student aid fraud, embezzlement and bribery all in relation to Financial Aid.

Recently there were several fraud ring busts, consisting of 17 arrests ranging from Sacramento to El Cajon County; all schools impacted were mainly community colleges.

Most of the fraud committed was by thieves who would sign up for classes, often in their own names, and once they received the financial aid check they would drop and not be seen again.

In some instances there were recruits in which the thieves would sign up using other student’s names.

One fraud group which came out of S.J. County had six people indicted for student- aid fraud.

According to an Orlando Sentinel Brief one fraud ring in Florida took more than $285,000 in student grants from 2007-2011.

“Why did it take so long to catch this?” some would ask.

With a broad range of financial aid scams sweeping the nation it is hard to pin point every act of fraud taking place.

The United States Department of Education provides approximately $100 billion to students attending universities and colleges nationwide.

With an intake of so many applications to be processed, fraud is inevitable.

It seems easier to target low-cost institutions such as community colleges, because after tuition is paid the student is given the money left from aid awarded.

Also, there is open enrollment with no transcripts required for admission.

Students are being impacted financially and academically due to scams.

On the academic aspect students who may be trying to register for a class may not be able to get in, because scam artists are staying in classes until they receive reimbursements from FAFSA.

The people who are committing fraud may put Delta in a bad situation in that the school has to pay the federal government the financial aid back, which in turn can leave less money for other students who actually need financial help.

Delta has recently switched to Higher One, which helps make it harder for fraud on campus to happen. It is an account set up for direct deposit. A “MySJDCCard” is issued, which can be used as credit.

There are no fees charged for the “just swipe and sign” motto Denise Donn Director of Financial aid and Veterans Services wants to make clear to our students.

Due to the fraud that has taken place on Delta campus the regulatory rules for the FAFSA enrollment has changed effective last July.

All financial aid recipients have their progress evaluated at the end of each term, and also when a change in funding is requested.

There are also warnings and disqualifications if students are not abiding by the rules. Sixty-seven percent of units per term have to be completed, 67 percent of cumulative units must be completed and a cumulative grade-point average of 2.0 is required to maintain receipt of Federal aid.