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The cost of higher education can be a huge obstacle to otherwise qualified applicants receiving an education. Within the United States, the federal government offers a number of financial aid programs to help students pay for their education, including grants and various student loan programs. Unfortunately, the federal student loan program is occasionally the victim of student loan fraud perpetrated by individuals or by the schools themselves. If a person suspects student loan fraud, the proper manner to report the suspected fraud is by contacting the Office of the Inspector General at the United States Department of Education either by telephone, e-mail, or in writing.
The U.S. Department of Education administers a variety of student loan programs for students and/or parents of students who need financial assistance to attend college. Some of the loan programs are need-based, while others are open to all students. Parents may also apply for low-interest loans to help finance a child's education. A parent loan will require the parent to be credit-worthy, while the student loans generally do not. As a rule, the basic criteria for a student to obtain a student loan is enrollment in an accredited institution, not having defaulted on a previous loan, and to be in good academic standing.
There are a number of ways in which student loan fraud may be committed. If a person has assumed the identity of another person and then applied for a student loan in that person's name, that is considered student loan fraud. By the same token, if a person has applied for student loans without ever having the intention of actually attending school, he or she may also be guilty of fraud. In some cases, the academic institution itself or the lending institutions may be guilty of student loan fraud if the college is receiving "kickbacks" or other questionable lending practices are being used. Lenders and colleges often work together to get loans processed; however, one or both may cross the line into the area of student loan fraud.
If student loan fraud is suspected, the proper office to contact is the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Education. The Inspector General's office investigates allegations of fraud for numerous government agencies. The office may be contacted through e-mail, by telephone, or by completing a complaint form found on the U.S. Department of Education's website. If the person reporting the fraud wishes to remain anonymous or chooses to have the information he or she reports remain confidential, there are options for both in the reporting process.
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