Secret Shopper Policy Draws Praise, Concern

"The Department of Education’s announcement last week of a secret shopper program to investigate the recruitment, enrollment, and financial aid practices of schools has garnered mixed reactions. While advocates of access hailed the policy, the for-profit sector and financial aid offices raised worries," Diverse: Issues in Higher Education reports.

... "For-profit colleges are not the only group that has raised alarm bells. According to Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), he has heard from several financial aid offices from different higher ed sectors that they are anxious about what the policy may bring."

"Draeger is concerned that under-resourced, under-staffed schools that make small mistakes or are not in perfect compliance with financial aid rules could be lumped in with bad actors that systematically and intentionally hurt students."

"'Nobody wants to cover up or provide space for fraudulent or predatory behavior,' he said. But, he argued, 'there’s a difference between a one-time mistake that a front-line customer service person might make versus a pattern of fraudulent or predatory behavior.'"

"These under-resourced schools, Draeger said, need more support from the federal government to be in compliance, not punishment. He also echoed Kent’s concern about whether FSA would be able to run the program well."

"'This is not a program that you can just throw together,' he said. 'There are entire industries about doing this in a non-biased, transparent way. It’s going to take resources to hire the right kind of expertise to implement this effectively.'"

NASFAA's "Notable Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Articles included under the notable headlines section are not written by NASFAA, but rather by external sources. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 3/20/2023

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