Thursday, December 29, 2011

If You See Something Say Something, Take 2

 [NOTE: My post from yesterday on scholarship abuse generated a lot of comments that indicated a misunderstanding of my points.  I can only conclude that I wasn’t clear in my original post so I will try to make my points again a little differently here]

Applicants for scholarship are required to fill out forms indicating their costs, income, assets and other relevant information.

Scholarship committees use that information to determine a families need for tuition assistance and allocate assistance based on that need.
Unfortunately, a small amount of the scholarship applications contain missing or fraudulent information.  Intentionally misleading a the committee is both an aveira and a crime, since the applications contain affidavits attesting to the that they are accurate and complete, under penalty of perjury.

There have been rare instances where schools have caught people lying and revoked their scholarships.  There are undoubtedly some other cases of fraud that have not been detected.  Schools need to use all means available to catch and deter abuse.  Such means include checking with the IRS to see if the W-2’s match their records and checking their houses to see if the reported home values on the applications are reasonable.

We need to help the schools in their efforts.  If you have information suggesting that someone is committing fraud please do not keep it to yourself.  I have heard people tell stories about abuse at the Shabbat table and on blogs.  I encourage, and the schools encourage, people to come forward with that information (privately) just as they should come forward with information on any other crime being committed.  When you come forward with information you are not necessarily concluding that a crime is being committed.  You are simply saying that there is reason to suspect a crime is taking place.  It is up to the proper authorities, in this case, the scholarship committee to determine if fraud has in fact taken place.  If the scholarship committee determines that in fact no fraud has taken place than the matter can be dropped without any harm done.

Such information can include someone confiding in you that they were dishonest on their forms.  Or it could be witnessing someone that you know to be on scholarship spending tens of thousands of dollars in luxury items, indicating that they MAY not truly be in need of assistance.

I am not asking anyone not on a scholarship committee to make a determination as to who should or should not qualify for a scholarship or how anyone should spend their money.  I am just asking them to report instances where fraud may be occurring.

I hope I've made myself clear.  I don't think this should be too controversial.