The Senate on Friday unanimously passed a bill to crack down on diploma mills and bogus college degrees.
House Bill 2507 was amended to include language from a now-defunct bill by Sen. Mark Schoesler to make it a class C felony to knowingly grant false academic credentials -- or even to use them. The punishment would be up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
"This bill makes a strong statement about the use of diploma mills," Schoesler said in a statement Friday night. "The very measure of academic integrity is what we're talking about here...There is no place in this state for those who would falsify academic credentials to compete with those who earn their credentials the honest way."
Diploma mills are unaccredited schools offering mail order or Internet degrees for little or no actual academic work. It's unfair, Schoesler said, for people to pad their professional credentials with meaningless degrees. And it's potentially dangerous, he said, when foreigners use fake degrees to get American study or work visas.