Fraud & Identity Theft

NOVA’s Financial Aid Office is working to prevent program abuse and to increase college-wide awareness on protecting your personal information.

Every year the Department of Education makes billions of dollars of Title IV Funds and Loans available to students to help them pay for higher education. However, in order to qualify for these funds both students and colleges must satisfy certain eligibility requirements. Cases of student aid fraud often involve students making false statements on the FAFSA to the Department of Education and to colleges on legal verification documents.

Conflicting Information

NOVA’s Financial Aid Office has the right to verify questionable data or conflicting information that applicant’s may have submitted inaccurately on their FAFSA. Conflicting information must be resolved before or after Title IV funds or loans have been disbursed. Failure to submit accurate and legitimate verification documentation will jeopardize aid eligibility and could result in a fine and imprisonment.

Reporting Potential Fraud/Identity Theft

Federal Regulations require that a school must refer to the Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) for credible information indicating that an applicant for Federal Student Aid may be engaging in fraudulent or other criminal misconduct in connection with his or her application.

Common areas of misconduct include:

  • False claims of independent student status
  • False claims of citizenship
  • Stolen Identities
  • False claims of high school completion
  • Forgery of signature on certifications
  • Unresolved conflicting information
  • False statements of income
  • The intent to deceive in order to receive Title IV aid

Where should you report fraud?

Contact the OIG Special Agent in charge in your geographic area as shown here.

You also can report fraud to the OIG Hotline:

  • Email:
  • Call: 1.800.MISUSED
  • Fax: 202.245.7047
  • Write: Inspector General Hotline, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-1500

What are Diploma Mills?

A “diploma mill” is a company that offers “degrees” for a flat fee in a short amount of time with little or no course work. Degrees awarded through diploma mills are not legitimate and are scams.