Financial Aid Policy Regarding Falsification of Financial Aid Information
SummaryFalsification of information submitted by the student, parent or any third party for the purpose of receiving financial assistance may result in penalties to the student and/or the party submitting the information. These penalties include, but are not limited to: cancellation of assistance; billing back for assistance received; and referral to the appropriate federal, state and university authorities. If the student, parent or third party purposely gives false or misleading information, they may be fined $20,000, sent to prison or both by the federal government.
The types of information covered by this policy include all documents and information submitted to apply for and/or receive need-based financial aid, scholarships and private financing funds. These documents and information include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Student Aid Report (SAR)
- CSS Financial Aid/PROFILE Application
- USC Supplemental Form for Financial Aid
- Student and parent federal income tax forms and other income documentation
- Documentation of U.S. citizenship or eligible non-citizen status
- Documentation of housing/living arrangements
- Academic documents relating to high school diploma or college course work
- Loan applications, promissory notes and related documentation
- Specific program applications
- Federal Work-Study time sheets
- Any university financial aid forms and related documentation
- Any written, electronic or verbal statements sent to or made to a staff member
The integrity of the documents and the honesty of the information presented through them is critical to the financial aid process. When any document or information given misrepresents a student's financial need or eligibility, other students are placed at a disadvantage, university governance and procedures are undermined and state and federal agencies are defrauded. Students should be aware that they will be held responsible for the integrity of any financial aid information submitted either by them or on their behalf.
If the USC Financial Aid Office, the USC Office of Internal Audit or any federal or state agency has reason to believe that a student or parent has provided falsified information, or has submitted forged documents or signatures, the following steps will be taken without prior notification to the student or parent:
(1) An incident report will be filed with USC's Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards following procedures outlined in the University Student Conduct Code. (The University Student Conduct Code is published in SCampus, the student guidebook.) Pending resolution of the complaint, the Financial Aid Office may restrict the distribution of any further aid to the accused student.
(2) If it is determined by the Financial Aid Office or through the student conduct review process that a violation has occurred, the consequences may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The student will be required to make full restitution of any and all federal, state, private and/or university scholarship, grant, loan or work funds to which he or she was not entitled.
- Until full restitution is made, all federal, state and university funds will be withheld from the student, including all funds disbursed in past or in current terms.
- No arrangements will be made with the cashier's office or collection's office on the student's behalf to settle their account. The student will be responsible for all charges on the student's account incurred because of the loss of federal, state or institutional financial aid funds.
- If the student is determined to be ineligible for financial aid because of a basic eligibility criterion, no further federal, state or university funds will be awarded to the student in any future terms of enrollment at the university.
- The student may be ineligible for future participation in some or all financial aid programs for a minimum of one year or longer. In some cases, the student will not be eligible to receive funds from that program in any future terms of enrollment at the university.
- The student will not be awarded funds to replace those lost funds for which a student is determined ineligible due to dishonesty.
(3) In addition to any consequences directly related to the student's financial aid, the student may be assigned disciplinary sanctions as described in the Student Conduct Code (11.80).
(4) As required by federal and state law, the USC Financial Aid Office will report any infraction to the appropriate office or agency. These include, but are not limited to, the U.S. Department of Education Office of the Inspector General, state agencies or other entities that may take whatever action is required by federal and state law. In this report, the Financial Aid Office will describe in detail the incident, the response of the Financial Aid Office and any additional actions taken by or pending with the university.