While NYU financial aid is known for being stingy, an NYU alum was even stingier: he defrauded NYU of over $1.3 million dollars of financial aid. 48-year-old Frank Harrison was sentenced to 18 months in prison last Wednesday for six years of fraudulent behavior.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara charged him for collecting over $1.3 million from federal financial aid programs by presenting a number of falsified letters that he alleged were from medical professionals, his landlord and the professor who served as his academic advisor.
In addition to the money he received from federal programs, NYU also gave Harrison grants to provide for the cost of tuition through his 2015 graduation. Although Harrison must pay over $1.1 million of restitution to the federal government, NYU is not requesting that he repay the funds afforded to him.
NYU spokesperson John Beckman said the university is glad to see the case’s resolution.
“NYU is pleased to learn that this matter has been resolved and justice has been served,” Beckman said. “The University was glad to cooperate with the government in their investigation.”
Harrison’s case is not unusual as it arrived on the heels of a rapidly growing financial aid fraud industry. From 2009 to 2012, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General estimates that the practice increased by 82 percent and involved over 85,000 students during this time period.
Harrison plead guilty to the charges against him in federal court on Feb. 19 and offered an apology. He said that he was sorry for presenting information that he knew at the time was untrue in pursuit of receiving financial aid from the university. At the time of his arrest, Harrison still owed over $1.3 million in principal and capitalized interest.
CAS sophomore Amanda Fontana was mainly angry that this took away from other students’ financial aid.
“I’m glad he apologized for what he did,” Fontana said. “But it doesn’t make up for the fact that he and many others are trying to cheat a system that so many other students use honestly and fairly, even if the financial aid they receive is less than they need.”
Email Rachel Rivers at [email protected]