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Even if comments and corrections to coursework are given, they may have no bearing on the degree which is awarded. In other cases professors may serve only to write compliments to the student that can be given as references. Some advertise other indicators of authenticity that are not relevant to academic credentials. For example, the University of Northern Washington advertises that its degrees are "attested and sealed for authenticity by a government appointed notary". In reality notarization only certifies that the document was signed by the person named. Diploma mills share a number of features that differentiate them from respected institutions, although some legitimate institutions may exhibit some of the same characteristics.

Such a system can be found in some European countries, such as Germany. The states in the United States have increasingly adopted such schemes in order to reduce the inequality in education spending across districts generated under local funding. Construction of schools, procurement of equipment and educational materials, provision of services, administrative support, and technical backstopping is mainly financed by the government. However, around 90% of the ministry's recurrent budget covers personal emoluments and leave no-salary components, including core items of improving quality of education, grossly underfunded.

However, the Federal Trade Commission works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices including those in the field of education and alerts United States' consumers about diploma mills by delineating some tell-tale signs in its official web page. Under the terms of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, the U.S. "Degree replacement services" provide exact reproductions of Ph.D. or M.D. diplomas from any university in the U.S. to anyone who will write a check - no questions asked5. Potential employers can be lured into hiring unqualified candidates who display phony "degrees" on their resumes and job applications and provide the employers with falsified "transcripts" of courses that were never taken. Since employers usually take college transcripts and copies of diplomas at face value, rather than contacting numerous educational institutions to verify their candidates' academic records, the chances of a fake diploma being caught appear slim.

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