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American Association of Community Colleges (NJ1)

In recent months, some legislators, government agency officials, segments of the media, and campus administrators have called attention to perceived and proven instances of abuse of the federal student financial assistance programs. Concerns have focused on students enrolling in courses primarily to secure student financial aid funds rather than to pursue an education. Organized fraud rings and individuals intending to commit financial aid fraud have allegedly concentrated on community college programs due to their low tuition: once institutional charges are covered, students can directly receive grant and student aid funds in the form of a cash payment or bank account deposit to cover nontuition expenses such as books, transportation, and living costs. While instances of abuse cannot be quantified, it is clear that it is an extremely small percentage of all students receiving aid at community colleges. However, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and community colleges across the country recognize that no abuse can be tolerated. Not only are student aid funds limited--a situation that has caused Pell Grant program eligibility to be cut twice in the last year--but also instances of abuse, when covered by the media (Field, 2011), can undermine political support for the programs, giving some parties a reason to oppose funding. In this document, AACC provides member colleges with some strategies on how to prevent abuse within the federal student aid programs, with a focus on Pell Grants. These recommended strategies derive primarily from a meeting held at AACC's offices on January 20, 2012. Findings from this gathering and other developments make it clear that community colleges across the country are working actively to prevent any abuse of student aid. However, because not all campuses may be aware of the full range of activities community colleges are employing to prevent abuse, AACC is providing this material to share practices that colleges have found to be successful in curbing financial aid abuse. Examples of Institutional Actions Currently in Place to Prevent Abuse are appended. (Contains 1 note.

Descriptors: Student Financial Aid, Grants, Federal Aid, Deception, College Students, Community Colleges, College Programs, Accountability, Politics of Education, Strategic Planning, College Administration, Coordination, Crime Prevention, Student Role, Teacher Role, Student Financial Aid Officers, Administrator Responsibility, Attendance Patterns

American Association of Community Colleges. One Dupont Circle NW Suite 410, Washington, DC 20015. Tel: 202-728-0200; Fax: 202-833-2467; Web site:

Autor: Baime, David S.; Mullin, Christopher M.


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