According the Department of Education (DOE), the announcement on Tuesday stated that the Biden administration would pretend to be students to catch colleges and universities that mislead students.
“Secret shoppers” will be employed by the Enforcement Office of Federal Student Aid to ensure that higher education institutions adhere to federal laws concerning financial aid and recruitment. They also need to make sure that students are not misled or preyed upon, according the announcement. They will pose as students and identify “misrepresentations”. These include “transferability,” job placement rates and completion rate, future earning potential and career service, cost to attend, federal student aid, and accreditation status.
Richard Cordray, Chief Operating Officer of FSA, stated secret shopping was yet another tool in the FSA’s arsenal. Cordray also stated that secret shopping was another tool in the FSA’s toolbox.
Kristen Donoghue, chief enforcer of the FSA, said that colleges and universities should inform students that they might have been misled and that they should rectify it.
This announcement reinforces Biden’s commitment to pursue colleges and universities that deceive students. Career Education Colleges and Universities are concerned that the secret-shopper approach may be too partisan.
“We support reasonable practice to hold all institutions accountable for misrepresentations that financially harm students and taxpayers; however, the federal government has an track-record for using secret shopper investigations to malign politically unfavored institutions with distorted findings which later require public correction,” Nicholas Kent (CECU chief strategy officer) responded to Tuesday’s announcement. Given the animus of the current administration towards for-profit schools,
Kent mentioned a 2010 Government Accountability Office Report, which concluded that 15 colleges for profit made “deceptive or other questionable statements to GAO’s undercover candidate candidates.” The report was later rewritten following complaints by industry members and Republicans in Congress about how it exaggerated exchanges between colleges. Times Higher Education reported.
A DCNF copy shows that lawmakers wrote a letter to GOA citing Daily Caller. They wanted to learn more about the GOA’s “methodology of preparing and revising the reports.” ”
According the DOE’s announcement the findings of the agents could be used in evidence in an ongoing investigation or opened a new one against college and university. The FSA will refer the FSA findings to the appropriate law enforcement departments or agencies at both the federal or state levels.
The DOE referred the DCNF to the press release.