Higher Education Services Corporation - Tuition Assistance Program

Mercy College: Appropriateness of the Social Security Numbers Used by Students Receiving Tuition Assistance Program Awards

In the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), which is administered by the Higher Education Services Corporation, New York State residents are eligible to receive grants to attend postsecondary institutions located in New York. We used commercially available software to evaluate the appropriateness of the social security numbers of the students who received TAP awards to attend Mercy College during the 1989 through 1995 academic years. (A former instructor at the College during this period was convicted in federal court for selling immigrant students social security numbers that belonged to other people. The social security numbers were used by the students to inappropriately obtain TAP awards and other financial aid.) In our audit, we identified many social security numbers that may not have been appropriate. However, we were unable to resolve the status of these numbers, because neither we nor Mercy College officials are authorized to review certain information maintained by the Social Security Administration. Officials at the Higher Education Services Corporation told us that they plan to implement a process for verifying the appropriateness of students' social security numbers.

For a complete copy of Report 98-T-2 click here.