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College admission scandal sparks probe of 8 schools by the US Department of Education

connectVideoMore universities notified they are under investigation in connection with the college admission scandal

Ministry of Education opens a preliminary study in eight universities related to the college admissions scandal.

Eight universities caught up in the national college admission scheme in which 50 people were criminally charged are now under investigation by the U. S Department of Education, according to an official with knowledge of the investigation.

The “preliminary investigation” of the department is focused on the question of whether there are no violations with regard to federal student financial aid programs administered by the department pursuant to Title IV of the High Education Act, the official told Fox News.

Letters from the department went to the university presidents on Monday from 8 schools including: Yale, Wake Forest, Stanford, and Georgetown universities, in addition to the University of San Diego; the University of Texas at Austin; the University of California in Los Angeles and the University of Southern California.

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The probe stems from the sweeping bribery scheme uncovered earlier this month by the Ministry of Justice, where rich parents, including celebrities Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, allegedly paid to have their children admitted to elite universities. Among the 50 persons who are charged were parents, college sports coaches and athletics officials, but the schools themselves are not the target.

The University of Southern California university says a review of students may be linked to a college admissions bribery scandal could lead to expulsion.
(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Federal education officials are now asking the universities for the documents relating to admission and classification as part of its investigation, including documents produced by a subpoena to other agencies, according to an official.

The department is also looking for a list of employees and students named in the criminal investigation, in addition to any disciplinary action the university has taken with respect to workers, the official added.

Officials are asking the universities for the data going back 10 years, college presidents 30 days to comply.

A department spokeswoman told the Associated Press the department does not confirm or comment on ongoing investigations. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos earlier called the bribery scheme “disgraceful,” and he told Fox News that students need in order to be considered by the colleges and universities on their merit.

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Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos says that the Ministry of Education is looking at how they can ensure the college admissions system is fair for all students.

“This is a subject that all Americans want things to be fair and they are clearly not,” DeVos said on “The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino.”

DeVos also said that at the time of the department “research and look for” how the department would interface with the criminal investigation.

“Obviously this is a Department of Justice to use, but we look very good and we will see if any of the regulations we are responsible for are broken,” DeVos told Perino at the time when he was asked if there was anything her department could do to ensure that the system is not rigged in favor of the rich.

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Department officials are reminded of the eight schools that will receive federal student aid, they are required to establish procedures for the management of the well, according to one of the letters obtained by the AP. They are also required to have a “credible” evidence of fraud, deception or other illegal acts.

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Schools found to have committed “substantial misrepresentation” may have their access to federal student aid, limited or withdrawn entirely. The letter warns schools that sanctions apply to statements “made directly or indirectly, to the prospective students.”

The University of California, Berkeley, who is also entangled in the scandal, did not receive a letter from the department at this time, an official told Fox News. Federal officials are also looking into possible federal student loan violations in connection with the scandal.

Different schools have confirmed that they received the letter, saying: they will work for documents and information at the request of the ministry.

Yale University said it cancelled the authorisation of a student associated with the college admissions scandal.
(iStock)

The University of Southern California in a statement: “fully cooperate” and “continue to comply with all laws and regulations.”

Yale President Peter Salovey said he got the request and will respond appropriately.”

The University of Texas in Austin, said it is working with the department while it conducts its own internal review.

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In total, 33 parents have been charged in the scheme in which prosecutors said college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer took approximately 25 million dollars in bribes from dozens of individuals to ensure their children’s entry into top colleges by those recruited for sports they do not play, and by the control of standardized tests to be rigged.

Fox News’ Victor Garcia and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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