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I am a low-income undergraduate student at a US university. Last semester, another student approached me and offered to pay me a lot of money if I take one class for him. Because of my family’s financial situation, I accepted this deal. Long story short, I have completely taken one class for him in Fall and one this Spring. I have also helped him with his exams and homework in his other classes.

It makes me incredibly angry that you can just buy your degree like this when you are rich. I would like to know what would happen to me if I report it to the university after I graduate or if there is anything else I can do about this situation without ruining my future.

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    Hm, you think he bought a degree because he bought a class? Mar 27 at 18:24
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    In many European countries you both would be breaking the law and could face prison time.
    – Dan Fox
    Mar 27 at 18:58
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    Just one data point to add: this is a criminal matter that is explicitly illegal in Canada. cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/… Mar 28 at 15:36
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    So the person who is paying you to submit essays and pass exams is the one at fault? You're not a victim, you allowed the lure of easy money to seduce you, someone who helps another to cheat is just as guilty and reprehensible.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 10 at 6:23
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    @DanFox Yes, here in England and Wales there was a similar case in 2008 where both parties ended up with a criminal conviction for fraud. OP, consult a lawyer before attempting to report anything. And if your SE user name is your real name, change it forthwith. Apr 10 at 8:46
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I would like to know what would happen to me if I report it to the university after I graduate or if there is anything else I can do about this situation without ruining my future.

Both your own actions and the actions of this other student would certainly amount to serious academic misconduct. It may also amount to some species of criminal fraud, such that it could also be a criminal offence. If you would like to get reliable information on this, I suggest you go and see a lawyer in your jurisdiction.

In terms of what would happen to you if this became known, I would think that you would be found to have committed academic misconduct, and some substantial penalty would be imposed. It is impossible to say what penalty would be imposed, but it could entail rescinding your degree. On the other hand, your adverse financial circumstances might count as a mitigating factor, and so it is possible that a lesser penalty would be applied.

Whether this would "ruin your future" depends largely on your ability to change your future behaviour and bounce back from adversity. I don't believe that a finding of academic misconduct ---or even a criminal conviction or loss of a degree--- is necessarily ruinous to one's future, but others may have a different view.

It makes me incredibly angry that you can just buy your degree like this when you are rich.

There is no valid cause for your anger. You have facilitated precisely this behaviour. Without the actions of people like you, it would not be possible for the rich to buy a degree. We can be angry about it, but for the time being, you have lost the right to be so.

Perhaps when your own conduct is more remote, and you have had some years to reconsider this episode and lament your own participation in it, you will once again have standing to feel anger over the short-cuts taken by the rich. For now, perhaps you should reserve some of that anger for people like yourself who defraud our educational institutions for money.

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If you are a student, you could and probably would be expelled and the lasting record might follow you.

But even if you are not a student, you have committed a fraud against the university which could be a legal matter. I don't know if it would be a criminal matter, however, but at least a civil lawsuit would be an option by the university.

So, the consequences are bad. Maybe nothing will happen, but the more often you do this, the more likely it is that you will be caught and the past might be revealed.

You are right to be angry that this can happen, but the means of preventing it absolutely are pretty grim also (biometric surveillance..).

Reporting it to the university will possibly blow back on you. It would probably be denied by your "patron". But the advantage to the one that paid you is probably limited. They haven't learned something that might be essential to their future and their propensity to cut corners may well catch up with them eventually. Not necessarily, of course. There is a lot of injustice in the world as you probably realize.

Maybe your best course of action is just to stop and hope for the best.

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  • Thank you for the answer. But what if I report it after I graduate? Would my degree be revoked?
    – John House
    Mar 27 at 18:00
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    I can't predict what could happen. But fraud is treated as a serious matter at US universities, especially at the moment, after the scandals of people paying for entrance to top universities. Some parents went to jail over it, so that, at least, was treated as a criminal matter. It would be risky.
    – Buffy
    Mar 27 at 18:02

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