WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) has asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate whether the federal government has funded “diploma mill” degrees through its employee education and training programs. Diploma mills masquerade as legitimate institutions of higher learning, but the degrees they offer are awarded for a fee, not on the basis of coursework or academic achievement.
“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to pay for coin-operated college degrees,” Collins said. “Even more important, federal employees should not be using these phony degrees to gain a job, promotion, or raise.”
Collins had previously asked the GAO to investigate the situation involving a high ranking official at the Department of Homeland Security who has been on administrative leave since June 5, following news reports that the official obtained her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from Hamilton University, an unaccredited school in Evanston, Wyo., that requires little academic work. Collins’ latest GAO request builds on this previous investigation.
“It takes a great deal of effort and ability to earn a graduate degree. Sending off a check and simply getting a flimsy piece of paper in return isn’t the same as doing the coursework, understanding the subject matter, and truly earning a diploma,” said Collins.
Collins will determine whether to hold hearings on the issue once the GAO has reported its findings.