After suspicions arose over the validity of a recent influx of financial aid applications at community colleges across the state, the California Community Colleges system discovered that more than 65,000 “fake bot” students had applied for financial aid, marking what’s believed to be one of the state’s biggest financial aid scam attempts, the Los Angeles Times reports.
California student aid official Patrick Perry told The Times that he became concerned a few weeks ago while he was doing a routine check of federal financial aid records and noticed a significant increase in first-time applicants. They were older, earned less than $40,000 annually, and were seeking two-year degree rather than vocational degrees. The mysterious applicants sought financial aid from 105 of the 116 campuses in the California Community Colleges system.
Officials declined to say whether any funds were actually given to the fake bot students, and they also said they didn’t know of any confirmed Cal Grant fund, The Times reports.
Perry told the paper that he thinks officials caught the attempted fraud before much—or any—financial aid was disbursed because school recently started and campuses have been on high alert.
The scam remains under investigation.
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