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Published on August 21st, 2013

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Sunfield High School

Sunfield High School, an online high school, offers to test you and send you a high school diploma for $249. But it’s a scam. Sunfield High School claims to be accredited by the “Universal Accreditation Agency for Online Education,” which is not a recognized accreditation board in the U.S. That’s warning bell number one.

The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education investigated Woodfield High School, a nearly-identical site that offers high-school degrees and also claims to be accredited by the Universal Accreditation Agency for Online Education. South Carolina found that the Universal Accreditation Agency for Online Education was a “likely accreditation mill. Postsecondary institutions will not accept the high school diploma as a prerequisite for enrollment.” The Universal Accreditation Agency for Online Education, Sunfield High School, and Woodfield High School are likely owned and operated by the same group of scammers. The three sites domains are registered with the same company, and the two older sites, Woodfield High School and uaaoe.org, were created within a day of each other.

Not sure whether a school is accredited? For colleges and other postsecondary institutions, consumers can check accreditation on the Department of Education’s website. For high schools, the Department of Education also lists all the recognized accrediting bodies in the U.S. on this page. And consumers should know that to apply for financial aid for college, a real high school degree or a GED is required — you could be stuck paying for a Sunfield High School degree in more ways than one.

Consumers seeking the equivalent of a high school diploma should search for the GED in their state. The fees to take the GED are much lower than the $249 you’d fork over for a no-good degree from Sunfield High School. For example in our home state of Connecticut, the fee to take the GED is $13 — and it’s free if you’re a veteran or under age 21. Avoid institutions accredited by “Universal Accreditation Agency for Online Education” and other phony accreditation boards — read more about diploma mills in our previous article.

UPDATE 8/19/15: Sunfield High School’s website is no longer online.

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A certification process and quality assurance method that’s designed to distinguish schools that comply with a set of educational standards.  But not all accreditation agencies are created equal.  Many are recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as being reliable authorities as to the quality of education or training provided by the institutions they accredit.  Those are the ones you want to see when you’re evaluating a school.  Others are unrecognized and some are completely made up, and scam artists will claim their school is accredited by such organizations to make it seem like their institution is legitimate and well-respected when, in reality, it’s a sham.

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