Earning a high school diploma or college degree is a great start to improving your job prospects, but you need to be an educated consumer before choosing any school or service. Though many are legitimate, some organizations are more interested in taking your money than providing you with a quality education.
A diploma or degree mill is any educational organization or service that sells credentials with the promise that it will take little time or coursework. The Better Business Bureau offers these red flags of possible diploma or degree mills.
- No Studies, No Exams — Get a Degree for Your Experience: Diploma mills grant degrees for “work or life experience” alone. Accredited colleges may give a few credits for specific experience related to a degree program, but not an entire degree.
- No Attendance: Legitimate schools require course work and exams. They do not grant diplomas or
degrees simply because you have completed an application and paid a fee.
Also, if transferring previously earned credits from another school, legitimate schools will conduct a “degree audit” to see what coursework can be applied toward your degree; they will not accept it on blind faith.
- Flat Fee: Many diploma mills charge on a per-degree basis. Legitimate colleges charge by the credit, course or semester, not a flat fee for an entire degree.
- No Waiting: Services that guarantee a degree in a few days, weeks or even months are not legitimate. If an ad promises that you can earn a degree very quickly, it is probably a diploma mill.
- Click Here To Order Now! Some diploma mills push themselves through high-pressure sales tactics. Accredited colleges do not use spam or telemarketing to market themselves unless you have initiated correspondence with the campus.
- Advertising through spam or pop-ups: If the school caught your attention through an unsolicited email or pop-up ad, it may be a diploma mill. Legitimate institutions, including online programs, will not advertise through spam or pop-ups.
If you have enrolled in an institution or service that you discover is fraudulent, the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General offers assistance in consumer protection related issues. Visit http://ag.ky.gov/family/consumerprotection/complaints/Pages/default.aspx for more information.
 Better Business Bureau: http://www.bbb.org/atlanta/news-events/bbb-warnings/2016/02/bbb-warns-watch-out-for-fake-diploma-mills/. Last accessed May 2016.
DISCLAIMER: This office cannot give legal advice to any individual or take any legal action on behalf of any individual.