Most colleges and universities prohibit students from lying to university officials. Doing so may be a code of conduct violation, and students can be formally charged with misconduct. If you're accused of lying to a university official, it's likely you'll have to go through your school's disciplinary process, including an investigation, hearing, and possible sanctions.
Lying to a university official might not seem like a severe violation, but your university will take the matter seriously.
What Does Lying to a University Official Entail?
Lying to a university official typically falls under forgery or falsification, which is prohibited by most college and university codes of conduct. But what counts as forgery and falsification, and in what context does it apply? Essentially, lying to a university official either by providing false information or misrepresenting information constitutes falsification. Intentionally putting false information on a university form or paperwork would be forgery as well.
Examples of lying to a university official
- Misrepresenting academic records, financial information, or other information on college applications to obtain scholarships or financial aid
- Forging a university official's signature on any document
- Altering transcripts from another institution without authorization to submit to your current institution
- Falsifying or fabricating a student ID card
- Giving a university official false testimony when serving as a party or witness in a misconduct case
Who are university officials?
Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which applies to all educational agencies and institutions in the U.S. that receive Department of Education funding, “school officials” include:
- Teachers or instructors
- University presidents
- Board members
- Admissions officers
- Attorneys for the university
- Accountants for the university
- Human resources professionals
- Information systems specialists
- Support or clerical personnel
Falsifying or misrepresenting information to anyone considered a “school official” on this list could constitute a violation of the student code of conduct.
What Happens If You're Accused of Lying to a University Official?
If your college or university believes that you have lied or misrepresented information to a university official, you may face a formal allegation of misconduct. Most educational institutions have a disciplinary process for student conduct violations.
- Notice: Your college or university will most likely notify you in writing if they believe you have violated the student code of conduct. The next step is usually meeting with a representative from a student conduct office or another office within the Department of Student Affairs. At this stage, you may have the opportunity to resolve the matter informally—which usually involves taking responsibility for the accusation and accepting sanctions. Student Affairs may give you the choice of proceeding to an investigation and hearing.
- Investigation: If there's no informal resolution, the representative or office from Student Affairs may conduct an investigation. This phase is the pre-hearing process, during which they will attempt to gather evidence and contact witnesses. During this time, you may also gather evidence and prepare witnesses who will testify at the hearing.
- Hearing: Most colleges and universities have a hearing to resolve allegations of student misconduct. At the hearing, you will have the chance to speak and present your side of the story. You may also have the right to call witnesses or cross-examine the other side's witnesses. Student conduct hearings are generally private, and students may or may not be able to have an external advisor, such as an attorney, present with them.
- Decision: After the hearing, a hearing panel will issue a determination and recommend sanctions. They typically inform you several days after the hearing.
- Appeal: Most colleges and universities allow students to submit a formal appeal following the hearing panel's decision. The appeal process differs by university, but the appeal decision is usually final.
What Sanctions Could You Face for Lying to a University Official?
Sanctions depend on the university, but you could have one of the following sanctions if your school determines that you lied to a university official:
- Formal reprimand
- Loss of university housing
- Loss of financial aid or scholarship
How Can a College Code of Conduct Defense Advisor Help?
Many students and parents mistakenly believe that the disciplinary hearing is a formality meant to scare the student back into good behavior. This notion couldn't be further from the truth. Most universities take conduct procedures very seriously, no matter what kind of infraction a student allegedly committed.
If your school wants to take a student conduct violation seriously, so should you. A legal advisor can speak on your behalf at your hearing or consult with you to ensure you present yourself in the best way possible.
What if your school prohibits an external representative at your hearing?
Even if your school doesn't allow you to have counsel present at your hearing, an attorney-advisor can still be invaluable to your conduct violation disciplinary process. A student defense advisor can also:
- Provide legal advice on conducting yourself at your hearing
- Investigate the facts against you
- Collect additional evidence
- Help students and parents understand the disciplinary process
- Ensure the school is following its own rules and applicable state and federal laws
- Review documents the university asks you to sign
It's vital that you contact a student defense legal advisor as soon as you receive notice from your school that you have allegedly lied to a university official. The sooner you have professional advice, the more likely you are to come away with a favorable outcome.
A National Student Defense Legal Advisor
Joseph D. Lento is an experienced student defense attorney-advisor who has thousands of hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students across the country with code of conduct violations. When you're accused of lying to a university official and your future is on the line, you want an expert in university codes of conduct by your side. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to schedule your consultation.