Diploma mill operators often manage to stay one step ahead of the law, changing their location or how they operate whenever state or other authorities zero in for a crackdown. And the laws and other tools available to regulators, higher education officials, students and others to stop degree mill operators are few and flimsy. So occasionally they turn to alternative tactics to fight the degree mills and other companies that help them do business.
As many as 1.5 million college students who probably would have qualified for Pell Grants in 2003-4 did not apply for federal financial aid, according to a study by the American Council on Education. A report on the study estimates that that number is up 76 percent over 1999-2000, and concludes that "more outreach is needed to inform low- and moderate-income students about the availability of financial aid and the application process."