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OIG: Office of Inspector General
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OIG Hotline

Frequently Asked Questions

➢    What Should I Report to the OIG Hotline?

  • Violations of Federal laws, rules, and regulations pertaining to ED programs and funding, including complaints involving ED employees, recipients of ED funds, schools, school officials, other educational institutions, contractors, lending institutions, collections agencies, or public officials. This includes, but not limited to:
    • Embezzlement, bribery, or other public corruption involving ED funds
    • Serious mismanagement involving ED programs or funds
    • Theft or misuse of Federal student aid
    • Knowledge of fraud, waste, or abuse involving a financial aid administrator or other school official(s)
    • Knowledge of fraud, waste, or abuse involving a student loan servicer or collection agency
    • Knowledge that your school is not complying with regulations or laws involving Federal student aid or other ED program or operation
    • Whistleblower reprisal (if you are an ED employee, also report reprisal to the Office of Special Counsel)
    • Conflicts of interest
    • Contract and procurement irregularities
    • Theft or abuse of government property
    • Employee misconduct
    • Ethics violations by ED officials

➢    What Shouldn't Be Reported to the OIG Hotline?

  • If your complaint or allegation does not involve fraud, waste, theft, mismanagement, public corruption, or abuse involving ED programs or funds, you may need to contact another ED office or Federal or State agency for assistance. If your complaint or allegation falls under one of the categories below, please contact the agency or organization listed for assistance.

  • If you have been unable to solve a problem that is not a result of theft or fraud involving your Federal student loan:

  • If you have an issue with your private student loan, or another private financial product or service:
    • Please contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at 1-800-411-2372 or http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/#student-loan. You can submit a complaint about private student loans, which are often issued by a bank, a credit union, your school, or another lending institution.

  • If you believe an improper accounting error occurred on your student loan involving a collection agency or loan service center, or if you disagree with your loan servicer about the balance or status of your student loan:

  • If you require technical assistance regarding your student loan, mediation between your loan servicing center, or problems receiving student loan documents from your loan servicer, disability forms, or loan cancellation:

  • If the Internal Revenue Service has or will offset income tax returns, or if you believe that there has been an improper garnishment of your wages for the repayment of student loans:


  • If you have questions concerning the quality of education you received while attending a college, university, or trade school:
    • Please contact your local Better Business Bureau, the school’s accrediting agency, the State licensing agency, or the State Board of Higher Education.

  • If your complaint involves a Head Start Program:
    • Please contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) OIG at 1-800-424-9121 or https://oig.hhs.gov/

  • If your complaint involves a school lunch program:


  • If your complaint involves a scholarship scam—someone calling to offer you a scholarship and requesting your bank or credit card account number for a processing fee—do not share any information and immediately

➢    How Do I Report a Complaint?

  • Anyone who suspects fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement, or public corruption involving ED programs, operations, or funds should file a report to the OIG hotline. You can do so anonymously or in confidence.

  • You can report your complaint or allegation via our online Hotline Complaint Form, by calling our Hotline, or by contacting the Regional Investigation Services Office closest to you.

➢    What Information Do I Need To Provide About My Complaint?

  • Specific details concerning alleged violation of rule, law, or regulation, including:

    • Person or company engaged in wrongdoing
    • Description, location, and dates of the wrongdoing
    • Identity of witnesses
    • Contract/grant numbers related to the allegation
    • How you became aware of the improprieties
    • Supporting documentation

➢    What Happens After I File a Complaint?

  • OIG staff will evaluate your complaint and may refer it for further OIG investigation, audit, or other review. If we know your identity (i.e., your complaint is not anonymous), an investigator or auditor may contact you for additional information.

  • Please note that not all reports filed with the OIG will generate an investigation, audit, or other review by the OIG. The OIG may refer your complaint to another office within ED or to an external entity, as appropriate. The decision to pursue a complaint or allegation received by the OIG rests exclusively with the OIG.

  • The OIG Hotline does not provide updates for information regarding the status of complaints or allegations.

➢    What if the OIG Does Not Open an Investigation?

  • A large number of the complaints received by the OIG Hotline do not result in OIG investigations, audits, or other reviews because they do not involve ED funds or programs, or they may require administrative action by an ED program office. In these situations, we forward the complaint or allegation to the appropriate ED office or other government agency. Please note that you will not receive a response on issues unrelated to the OIG.

➢    Where Can I find the Status of My Complaint or Obtain a Copy of the Investigative Report?

  • Per our policy, the OIG does not discuss details of any ongoing investigation. This longstanding policy is in place to protect and maintain the integrity of any investigation. To obtain a copy of the investigative report, you will need to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Click here for information on filling the FOIA request.

➢    What Does “Confidentiality” Mean?

  • Confidentiality is a set of policies and regulations that prevent the OIG from releasing your identity outside of our office. You may request confidentiality at the time you file your complaint. Be advised that:
    • Confidentiality only applies to your identity, not to the information provided (i.e., the OIG may, if necessary, share the facts and circumstances provided by you).
    • You may later consent to release your identity.
    • Your identity may be disclosed to other OIG personnel, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies or pursuant to court order or Congressional committee request.
    • Your identity will be included in OIG files, memoranda, records, etc.
    • The OIG cannot control whether other persons you reported allegations or information to will protect your identity.
    • Given the nature of the information you provide, other individuals, including coworkers, subordinates, supervisors, etc., may deduce or infer the OIG’s source of the information.
    • A request for confidentiality may preclude the OIG from taking further action, if the information provided is of a specific or personal nature that action would require identity disclosure (e.g., a person alleges retaliation).


   
Last Modified: 01/04/2018