U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee, issued the following statement today after the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California and the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Education announced that 21 individuals have recently been indicted for participating in federal student aid fraud schemes at 15 schools throughout California.
"I thank the Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California for looking into this serious matter and taking action. Federal funds must be guarded against fraud, waste and abuse. Distance education programs play a vital role in expanding access to postsecondary education for some of our most disadvantaged students. These cases remind us that we must remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure the integrity of and protect the taxpayer investment in federal student aid programs, especially as the use of distance education grows."
In September of 2011, in response to an alarming report issued by the Department of Education's Office Of Inspector General that found examples of individuals conspiring to defraud Title IV programs of the Higher Education Act by enrolling significant numbers of "straw" students in distance education programs, Reps. Miller and Hinojosa wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urging proactive and swift action to remedy the situation, as well as more information and regular updates regarding timeframes, actions, and recommendations.