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Report Fraud

Reporting Admissions & Financial Aid Fraud 

The increase in admissions, enrollment, and financial aid fraud has caused a great deal of concern and uncertainty both nationwide and at Washington's community and technical colleges. Unfortunately, the shift to remote course delivery has contributed to an increase in  fraudulent activity.  

The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) is committed to supporting colleges to detect, confirm, and report fraudulent student activity. 

Data is a key component of the evolving strategy to report instances of fraud. At this page are technical guidance, tools, policies, and resources to ensure stakeholders are aware of steps they need to take if they come across such activity and to help colleges meet state and federal requirements.

Contact

Dani Bundy
ctcLink Customer Support Director
dbundy@sbctc.edu
360-704-1028

How Colleges are Required to Report Fraud

When a fraudulent admissions or financial aid application is suspected, enrollment fraud detection relies on college staff and faculty to identify, confirm, and report.

Reporting Requirements

If a suspicious admissions or financial aid application is determined to be fraudulent, the fraudulent student account must be reported to ctcLink Support.

If there is documented monetary loss (financial aid or other) colleges must report to:

  • Washington State Auditor's Office, and
  • SBCTC Business Operations

If the monetary loss is federal financial aid fraud, college must also report to Department of Education Office of Inspector General (OIG).

Report to ctcLink Support

State Reporting Requirements  

Instances of financial fraud (monetary loss of any amount) must be reported to both the Washington State Auditor's Office (SAO) and SBCTC Business Operations with documentation.

1. Washington State Auditor's Office

All state agencies must immediately notify the SAO of any fraud, loss of public resources, or suspected illegal activity targeting public resources (RCW 43.9.185). There is no monetary threshold that waives this requirement so any real or suspected fraudulent applications or real or attempted fraudulent access to financial aid must be reported. 

Submit Fraud Report to Washington State Auditor’s Office

2. SBCTC Business Operations

After completing a report to the SAO, complete the online form to notify SBCTC Business Operations, including a description of the information provided to the SAO.

Submit Fraud Report to SBCTC Business Operations 

Federal Reporting Requirements  

Any instance of federal financial aid fraud requires reporting to the Department of Education Office of Inspector General (OIG). Fraud Reporting Requirements: A Guide for Federal Program Participants and Auditors  

Submit Fraud Report to OIG

Expand All

Admissions application fraud

The act of creating a ctcLink account, submitting an application via the Online Admissions Application Portal (OAAP), and completing the application process with the college without the intent to attend college for educational purposes.

Enrollment fraud

The act of registering for classes without the intent to legitimately attend. Follows admissions application fraud and can only occur once a college has accepted the admissions application and enabled access to registration.

Financial aid fraud

Financial aid-related fraud occurs after a college has accepted a fraudulent admissions application, allowed the fraudulent student to register for classes, and begins the process of disbursing local, state, and/or federal financial aid.  

Enrollment fraud detection requires colleges working across departments—from admissions to financial aid to faculty noting classroom attendance and participation—to root out fraudulent students.

While there is a human interface to admissions and financial aid activities, fraud prevention also includes technology solutions and processes designed to note suspicious patterns.

  • Early identification of fraudulent accounts by college employees
  • College confirmation and reporting of suspicious, non-responsive students
  • Reporting when there is a lack of participation in enrolled course(s)

College leadership

College leaders and staff should actively provide updates on the process and timelines for reporting inactive enrollments at the beginning of each term, including posting this information in an easily accessible and high-traffic location.

Meaningful engagement with students prior to these deadlines improves retention and support for real students and removes non-students early enough to allow real students to enroll.

Best practices

Faculty should be aware of their college processes, procedures, and deadlines for reporting inactive enrollments by the census date. Meeting these deadlines significantly reduces the likelihood that financial aid is disbursed fraudulently or that colleges receive state funding fraudulently.

These metrics will be used to assist in detecting trends in fraudulent activity, monitoring the impact of implemented mitigation efforts, and appropriately direct future investments to reduce and eliminate fraud across Washington's community and technical colleges.

Considering ongoing investigations, and the potential for further harm to our systems from public disclosure of the information requested here, the SBCTC Executive Director's Office will protect this information from public disclosure to the full extent allowed by law. We also request that community college districts and their agents similarly protect this information.

The SBCTC Executive Director's Office remains committed to ensuring that any individual seeking a postsecondary education or training within the state has access to the system. Ensuring that real students can successfully navigate various system and local processes requires attentiveness to their journeys, regardless of what they look like, how old they are, where they live, or what modality preferences they have (i.e., online, hybrid, hy-flex or face-to-face courses). 

Resources for Students

You work hard to attend college.  Scammers work even harder to steal your money and identity. Protect your most valuable asset.

 

 

Page Manager: slnelson@sbctc.edu
Last Modified: 1/30/24, 3:27 PM

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