turnkey business blog

Archive for November, 2007

Another case of student loan fraud

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

I am constantly surprised by people who try to make money by scamming student loans. I mean, let’s look at this realistically – the government keeps a close eye on what is going on. And the loans are provided by banks who have legions of people looking for fraud.

Yet every year some new schmuck thinks he or she can make a quick buck and not get caught. Read about the latest incident I’ve heard of, courtesy of LawFuel.com:

The criminal complaint, filed on November 8, 2007, alleges that from 2003 to 2007, Gallagher submitted over 200 student loan applications via the Internet to various financial institutions. The majority of these loan applications originated from one of eight different America On-Line (AOL) email accounts registered in the name of Stephen Gallagher. He submitted loan applications in his own name as well as in the names of unsuspecting individuals, later adding these other individuals to his bank account so he could deposit the student loan checks which were made payable in the name of the borrower. Supporting documentation, such as proof of employment and residence verification, was submitted to each financial intuition via FAX machine. Much of this documentation was determined to be fraudulent.

To date, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has identified approximately 42 fraudulent student loans totaling $624,287.32 to be associated with Gallagher.

A conviction for bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison, a $1 million fine, or both. A criminal complaint is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the U.S. Department of Education.

HEA Re-authorization targets illegal downloading at colleges

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

The UCLA Daily Bruin has an article pointing out one of the more obscure items in the HEA re-authorization bill before the House of Representatives.  It has wording in there to tackle the issue of illegal downloading on campuses.

You can read the whole article here, or read the excerpt below:

A change that will directly impact students is the crackdown on illegal downloading within the proposed legislation. It requires institutions to educate their students on policies regarding copyright infringement on campus networks. It also requires that colleges eligible for federal financial aid under Title IV, a section of the Higher Education Act that defines all federal loans available to students, to develop a plan for offering alternatives to illegal downloading.

“About 44 percent of domestic piracy losses nationwide, over $500 million, are due to college students,” said Kori Bernard, a spokeswoman for the Motion Picture Association of America, which supports the legislation.

“We are requesting minimally invasive efforts to reduce piracy on college campuses,” Bernard added.

Educause, a nonprofit organization concerned with proper technology use in higher education, called the second portion of the legislation “unacceptable,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“These provisions of the bill are misdirected at higher education,” said Steven Worona, Educause director of policy and networking programs.

Most infringement by college students occurs on commercial networks that are not associated with their college. Less than 4 percent of infringers are using college campus networks and therefore account for no more than 9 percent of the losses. The statistic that attributes 44 percent of piracy to college campuses is both misleading and false, Worona said.

Will colleges mitigate tuition increase to avoid being on a watch-list?

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Inside Higher has an interesting article on one aspect of the HEA re-authorization bill currently before the House of Representatives.  Read the excerpt below.  I got a kick out of this one.  :)

If the Higher Education Act bill that House Democrats introduced late last week did not persuade college leaders that the issue of college prices is and will remain front and center on the federal policy agenda, the House education committee’s consideration of the legislation Wednesday should once and for all.

Lawmakers on the Education and Labor Committee did not complete their work on the measure (H.R. 4137) Wednesday, though they did pass several amendments and reject or withdraw numerous others (detailed below). But their hours of mostly bipartisan discussion about the legislation included warnings from members of both political parties that colleges will face continuing scrutiny of their spending and tuition prices and could face more federal intrusion into their operations — beyond the creation of federal “watch lists” that the bill in question would create — if they don’t get the problem under control.

Rep. Michael Castle (R-Del.) proposed an amendment that would have required colleges that appear on the “watch lists” to put in place procedures to cut their costs and slash their federal student aid funds by 10 percent a year if they do not meet certain benchmarks. Castle said he believed the committee’s bill would do “very good things” on the cost issue, but suggested that “more may need to be done.”

The committee’s chairman, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), asked Castle to withdraw the amendment, which he did. But Miller said he found Castle’s amendment to be “very tempting,” and acknowledged the Republican lawmaker’s point that “we haven’t done everything potentially available” to Congress to crack down on rising college costs.

Miller then issued a warning directly to college officials: “I hope the [higher education] community is listening closely on this,” he said, adding that the committee’s work on this bill “is not the end of the story.”

Read the whole article here.  A paid subscription may be required to read the entire article.

Scholarships are out there

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

People keep telling me scholarships aren’t worth the effort, and that astounds me.

We’re talking about FREE MONEY!!!  You don’t pay it back like loans – why can’t I get this across to people?

So just to prove that there are scholarships out there for everyone, here’s a few more random ones I came across just by searching Google:

  • Union Plus – do you have a pernt who’s a member of AFL-CIO?  Then you qualify.
  • Talbots (yes, the clothing store) – women only
  • US-Ireland Alliance – study in Ireland for a year, free.
  • Coca Cola (yes, the soda company) – you can win even if you hate soda.

If I can find these in 10 minutes on Google, and a whole lot more, imagine what you can do!

Lawmakers introduce Higher Education Act reauthorization bill

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

According to NCHelp.org, House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-CA) and Representative Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) introduced H.R. 4137 which is a five-year reauthorization bill for the Higher Education Act (HEA).  The bill contains many provisions, including:

  • Expand college access for low-income and minority students by increasing the maximum Pell Grant award to $9,000, allowing students to receive year-round Pell Grant scholarships, and strengthening college readiness and early awareness programs.
  • Increase college aid and support programs for veterans and military families.
  • Streamline the federal student financial aid application to make it easier for all eligible students to access financial aid.
    • Create two-page EZ FAFSA form for students who qualify for simplified needs and auto-zero-EFC;
    • Reduce the number of data elements on the FAFSA by a half;
    • Require Education Department to work with the IRS to get income information for the FAFSA in order to simplify process.
  • Require greatly increased reporting on how colleges spend their money and create “Higher Education Price Increase Watch Lists” of institutions that increase their tuitions above the average for their peer institutions.
  • Make textbook costs more manageable for students.
  • Give the Department of Education increased authority to regulate private student loans, increase loan disclosure requirements and increase requirements for lenders and institutions participating in preferred lender arrangements.
    • Require schools using preferred lender lists to inform students and parents why they choose each lender on the list and their right to choose lenders no included on the list
    • Federal student loan preferred lender lists would need to consist of three unaffiliated lenders and private lender lists would need to consist of two unaffiliated lenders.
  • Require lenders, secondary markets, holders or guaranty agencies to provide free of charge and in a timely and effective manner, any student loan information pertaining to federal loans by an institution of higher education for a borrower who had previously attended the institution or by any third-party servicer working on behalf of that institution to prevent student loan defaults
  • Call for a study of the feasibility of developing a National Electronic Student Loan Marketplace for federal and private loans.
  • Increase Perkins Loan limits from $4,000 to $5,000 for undergraduates and $6,000 to $8,000 for graduate students.
  • Provide public service loan forgiveness for service in areas of national need including: early childhood educators; nurses; foreign language specialists; librarians; child welfare workers; and speech-language pathologists.

Please visit NCHelp.org’s PDF file about this to get more details.

Student Loan issues occur the world over

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

I found an article in the Canadian Press that made my eyes roll.  The US is not the only country to be slightly idiotic at times!

The article points out that the company recently assigned a 5-year contract in Canada to ” take over ‘end-to-end servicing’ of debt” in the student loan program has a history of snafus with other government contracts.

Snafus include:

  • throwing out gun license applications in the trash instead of shredding them – these included homeowner’s names and addresses left frozen to the bottom of a dumpster
  • errors on gun licenses went from zero per year to hundreds per year, including wrong name, photo, birth date

Student loan “crackdown bill” introduced in House of Representatives

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

According to Reuters, a bill was put before teh House on 11/9/2007 seeking to combat some of the excesses of the student loan industry.  Here’s an excerpt from a Reuters article about it:

A bill aimed at cleaning up misconduct in the U.S. student loan industry and encouraging colleges to restrain tuition inflation was introduced in the House of Representatives on Friday.

The legislation comes after a scandal earlier this year that revealed kickbacks and conflicts of interest among lenders and some colleges, embarrassing the $85 billion industry and drawing more attention to rising college costs.

“Today’s students face far too many obstacles when trying to go to college: skyrocketing college prices; an absurdly confusing financial aid application; and a student loan industry overrun with conflicts of interest,” said Rep. George Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.

The bill from Miller, a California Democrat, would require colleges and lenders to adopt loan codes of conduct; give students more loan information; curtail aggressive loan marketing; and force colleges to report reasons for increasing tuition and plans for lowering costs.

In addition, it would shorten and simplify the long and confusing standard application form students must complete when applying for financial aid.