Opportunities for distance learning are life changing for some students. There are myriad reasons why students need the flexibility to earn an education online. Some students may have full-time jobs (often multiple part-time jobs). Some are on active military duty. Some have families to take care of—and some simply live in rural areas.
Online learning has presented a risk, however, for students, institutions and the federal government—which allocates funds for universities to provide financial aid to students. ID authentication has proven to be a key element in protecting the integrity of programs—both online and on-campus. Institutions need to be sure that the student who registered for courses is actually the person completing the work. By using ID verification technology for student identities, institutions have proof of ID and can be sure that the student taking the exam is the rightful recipient of financial aid.
Validating student ID’s has become imperative for mitigating other nefarious activity; such as when students hire someone to take exams for them (contract cheating). Institutions will have to take these threats more seriously as online programs continue to grow.
Besides protecting academic integrity, verifying student ID’s is an important component in preventing financial aid fraud. Financial aid exists to provide financial support to students who cannot afford a higher education. Unfortunately, there are many out there who attempt to game the system and take money from those who need it—for their own financial gain, leading to losses of up to $187 Million.
It has become extremely easy to commit this type of fraud due to the fact that most federal aid does not require a credit check, and how the money is spent is not tightly restricted. According to the FBI, there has been a rise in financial aid fraud because there are more online programs available. A single fraudulent individual can create multiple identities online at different institutions and collect money for several low-cost programs, pocketing whatever funds are left after they pay for their classes.
The new regulations surrounding academic integrity will ensure that both The Department of Education and accreditation bodies change the regulations for distance education students and shift the responsibility for ID authentication solely onto institutions. According to the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008: “all institutions in the United States that participate in Title IV student aid programs must verify the identity of students enrolled at their institution.”
Fighting Fraud with Edtech Tools
Luckily, technology is catching up with physical modes of identification. The prevention of fraud with ID verification is becoming a must in today’s online learning space. Proctorio’s suite of academic integrity tools includes Live ID verification, where Proctorio agents validate ID documents provided by students and compare it to the photo of the student taken during the pre-check process. Only test-takers with approved and valid ID documentation are allowed to enter the course or exam. Proctorio is helping to ensure that state and federal aid is reserved for those who truly need it.