Avoiding Diploma Mills

A recent graduate holds a degree and smiles.

Are you looking for the "right school" to meet your needs? Does the thought of an easy "no hassle" college degree with no Transcript or Student Evaluation Processes scare you? Well maybe it should. Because that is the hook used by many un-reputable, unaccredited "colleges" (often called "diploma mills"). These diploma mills love to prey on military servicemembers.

What is a Diploma Mill?

A diploma mill is a school operating without supervision of a state or professional agency, granting diplomas which are either fraudulent or because of the lack of proper standards, are worthless.

Some are simple frauds: just a P.O. box where people send money in exchange for a piece of paper that purports to be a college degree. Others require nominal work from the student, but do not require college-level course work that is normally required for a degree.

What's Wrong With a Diploma Mill?

Diploma mills devalue college degrees by making them available without college-level work. This makes all degrees suspect and confuses employers and professional licensing boards that need to know whether a person has an appropriate educational background.

On top of that the GI Bill, Military Tuition Assistance and Federal Student Aid will not pay for studies at unaccredited colleges, and the diplomas are worthless.

How Can I Tell if a School is a Diploma Mill?

The following are the most obvious ways to tell if you are dealing with a diploma mill:

  • Diploma Mills are not usually licensed to operate in any states.
  • Diploma Mills are not authorized for Tuition Assistance, the GI Bill or Federal Financial Aid.
  • Diploma Mills are not accredited by any legitimate education agencies or the U.S. Dept. of Education.

Are Diploma Mills Legal?

No. Some states have lax standards that allow almost anyone to operate a "college," but most have laws that provide penalties for people operating diploma mills. If you receive a solicitation from a college that might be a diploma mill, you should contact your local state Dept. of Education which will investigate and handle accordingly.

Not all unaccredited colleges are necessarily degree mills in the traditional sense of the term. Some unaccredited colleges provide legitimate academic work.

Remember: Unless these colleges are approved by the VA and the Department of Education, the military will not cover tuition costs. And did we mention your degree will be absolutely worthless? If it seems to good to be true... it probably is!

Keep Up With Your Education Benefits

Whether you need a guide on how to use your GI Bill, want to take advantage of tuition assistance and scholarships, or get the lowdown on education benefits available for your family, Military.com can help. Sign up for a free Military.com membership to have education tips and benefits updates delivered directly to your inbox.

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