Working in Higher-Ed, we’re all aware that the government is cracking down on misrepresentation at colleges but so many folks still don’t get it. The days of assuming that everything is okay because the fed’s haven’t come knocking are over. Over the last decade Institutions of higher education have been struggling to keep pace with the seemingly endless stream of new regulations. This year alone, new precedents have been set not only at the Federal and State level, but also in the courts.
In previous newsletters and blog posts, I’ve written about the types of penalties and fines an institution receives after a program review (SEE HERE) but the cost of the average fine is peanuts compared to the outcome-cost of losing in litigation or even settling. Yes, the days of forcing arbitration are over. End up in litigation and it’s going to cost you. Get busted on something egregious like misrepresentation or fraud and owners/officers could also be looking at debarment from running a Title IV eligible institution or even jail time. When the feds finish chewing you up and spitting you out, you won’t be able to run a baseball camp! Get it?
Wondering how a school ends up in litigation? More often than not, it doesn’t even begin with the feds. It usually starts with student or employee complaints. Employees can bring Qui Tams and false claims suits against an organization on behalf of the government and if they are successful, even share in any settlements or awards. Compared to a program review, recent litigation resulting from whistleblower claims have cost schools between $4.4 million (Cornell University) and $95.5 million (EDMC). Cases involving the federal government or a state attorney general are simply more successful and they’re becoming more common.
Most school owners and college leaders already know that violating the ban on incentive compensation, fudging the numbers on 70/70 or 90/10 calculations or providing false student financial information is simply illegal. Some don’t or think they’ll never get caught. And although pretty much everyone has read the headlines, surprisingly, most are still unaware of the precedents set by recent court cases and there’s the rub. Although a precedent isn’t law, it can be either binding on or persuasive for a court deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts.
Folks, you’ve got no excuses. You’re bound by the law even if you don’t know the law. That’s called “Ignoratia juris non excusat”. All Hillary Clinton (or Donald Trump) jokes aside, ignorance of the law won’t get you off the hook anymore…Not in Higher Ed.
On September 20th at 2:00 pm Eastern Standard Time, we’re hosting a webinar, during which we’ll be discussing several court cases and contextualizing a number of recent precedents you’ll be shocked to learn. Attendees will be equipped with an essential understanding of recent Qui Tams claims and more so you can keep your institution running beyond reproach.
The cost is free for current clients and $50.00 per institution for all others. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org