In response to alarming data compiled by the United States Department of Education, agents of the government announced last Monday that steps would be taken to prevent students applying to internet based institutions of higher learning from abusing the federal financial aid program for mercenary purposes. These schools, many of them newly accredited by regional academic officials only tangentially connected with the national scholastic authorities, have skyrocketed in popularity throughout the past decade as thousands of men and women getting a degree online flock to the decreased costs and malleable course designs. The innovative approach to remote learning has certainly enlivened a United States educational system badly in need of substantive change, and, whether to broaden the reach of their academic vision or to merely reduce spiraling instructional costs otherwise threatening to price poorer Americans out of the diploma hunt, traditional institutions ranging from community colleges to legendary universities have begun cultivating their own online Bachelor’s degree curriculum.
However, any rapidly burgeoning industry must brave the infestation of predators searching out their own easy money, and some of the very same advantages for students getting a degree online have proven to be equally worrisome dangers for the country. As the Dept. of Education report recently illustrated, digitized campuses have become stalking grounds for a newly originated con that bleeds federal funds by means of enrolling virtual students within online Associate’s degree or online Bachelor’s degree programs to collect aid money. While the men and women who willingly participate in the charade would owe the loan balances regardless of whether or not the deception was unearthed those prosecuted for defrauding the government owing quite a bit more, of course the ideal prospects sought out by the scam’s ringleaders would necessarily be near destitute to meet the financial aid qualifying criteria standards for approval, and they’ve been apparently delighted to surrender their identities for manipulation despite the relatively minimal amount of money to be obtained.
Since the students aren’t actually getting a degree online, they’ll only receive monetary support for the first semester, and, even then, the government will divert a portion of the funds to the school for tuition and various fees. All told, the Department of Education figures estimated the approximate proceeds to average about five thousand dollars (representing funds intended to help full time online Bachelor’s degree candidates afford books and costs of living), but the sheer scale of the operations has potentially stolen millions from the government. As a partial remedy, Department of Education officials intend to accentuate the liability for academic institutions that knowingly facilitate criminal fraudulence and the misappropriation of government funds, but greater efforts may be in order.
Although cyber scholastic authorities maintain that administrative zeal meant to encourage applicants’ requests for federal grants remains common practice for financial aid counselors at old fashioned colleges and universities around the nation, it’s patently obvious that the people getting a degree online present considerably different challenges and unanticipated difficulties for the financial structure propelling higher education. As well, critics of the existing governmental system of distributing academic subsidies have argued for some time that a more exacting method of scrutiny must be employed to prevent any faux pupils hoping to exploit the system from successfully siphoning funds away from actual (offline or online) Bachelor’s degree candidates.