During a five-year period, MJI’s students claimed $25 million under the Federal Pell Grant Program, which is designed for the neediest American students, almost all those students took degree courses in Judaic studies at yeshivas and seminaries in Israel that they never completed.
Federal agents raided the offices of a Jewish college that has prospered from millions of dollars in federal aid even though almost all its students live in Israel and hardly any of them graduate.
Federal officials declined to comment on the reason for the July 7 raid at Michigan Jewish Institute, in a suburb of Detroit.
But in 2012, the Forward showed how MJI’s assets soared as the college enrolled thousands of students in distance and online learning courses.
During a five-year period, MJI’s students claimed $25 million under the Federal Pell Grant Program, which is designed for the neediest American students.
Almost all those students took degree courses in Judaic studies at yeshivas and seminaries in Israel that they never completed.
Although MJI’s academic record has been poor, its assets have increased to $4.6 million in 2013, the most recent tax year available, from $1.2 million in 2008.
About 15 federal agents descended on MJI’s administrative offices in Southfield, a suburb of Detroit, on the morning of July 7.
According to an eyewitness to the raid, who did not wish to be named, the agents herded employees into a conference room, took their personal details and then sent them home.
The eyewitness saw agents bringing boxes into the building on a hand truck.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General, Catherine Grant, confirmed on July 7 that agents were “on site” at MJI. She declined to give any further information.
Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, MJI’s president, and Dov Stein, MJI’s director of academic administration, did not respond to requests for comment.
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