Former VCU student and mother plead guilty to student aid fraud

Posted at 11:49 PM, Sep 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-19 00:21:45-04

RICHMOND, Va.  -- A mother and daughter entered guilty pleas on Thursday, charged with student aid fraud.

Mother Donnica Crossland, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty today to making false statements to federal agents in connection with an investigation of student aid fraud.  Her daughter, Jamanda Crossland, pleaded guilty today to making false statements on student financial aid applications.

Jamanda attended Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) as a student between 2009 to 2013.

During those years she was awarded $69,788 in grants or loans, and $43,400 in tuition grants from the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Government of the District of Columbia (“OSSE”) that were used to pay costs associated with attending VCU.

For each year Jamanda attended VCU between 2008 and 2013, she filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with the U.S. Department of Education and reported her mother Donnica Crossland had no income.

During that same period, she also filed applications for education grants with the D.C. OSSE, and in those applications stated her mother Donnica Crossland was not employed and received no income, according to federal prosecutors.

Authorities later discovered that Jamanda's mother worked at the US Department of Transportation, making over $521,000 from December 2006 to December 2012.

Jamanda also submitted a Federal Student Aid Verification worksheet containing false information to VCU and provided additional false documents in support of the worksheet, according to federal prosecutors.

Said documents include fraudulent copies of Form 1040 for her father, a forged letter from her father regarding his marital status, and a fake utility bill with a false address for her mother.

VCU student, Jessica McCoy said her parents tried applying for financial aid, but they didn't get the result for which they had hoped.

"They said my parents made too much money to get any financial aid," said McCoy.

Now,  news of a mother and daughter involved in a student aid fraud investigation has her that much more upset since her family went through the process the honest way.

"It's so frustrating for me because the pressure is on me to make sure I do good," said McCoy.

"It's unfair, I know a lot of people that actually need financial aid," said VCU student, Taylor Jones.

"It makes me furious," said one VCU student. "The money that they are taking from financial aid by forging documents is money that people who need it more could get."

Donnica and Jamanda each face a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and full restitution when they are each sentenced on December 12, 2014, by United States District Judge Henry Hudson.