The New York Times reports that families are breaking federal law in various ways when their children apply for federal student load aid through the FAFSA program.
The Department of Education warns: “If you sign this application or any document related to the federal student aid programs electronically using a username and password, and/or any other credential, you certify that you are the person identified by the username and password, and/or any other credential and have not disclosed that username and password, and/or any other credential to anyone else.”
While the Times reports that no one yet has gone to jail for misconduct, when students allow parents to login and supply information on the student’s application, the student has violated 20 U.S.C. 1097 which imposes fines and imprisonment of up to 5 years.
While the Times notes that the Department of Justice has never pursued a student who violated this law and comments that such prosecutions would be unlikely in a presidential year, the Department of Justice has prosecuted low level fraud and potentially inadvertent filing of fraudulent paperwork in various PPP loan prosecutions.
Moreover, a politically motivated Department of Justice could very well use such prosecutions as part of a wider effort to target various communities an Administration does not like.