It's very well known today, especially from R' Moshe's ruling, that cheating on college tests is גניבת ממון. However he says High School cheating, although forbidden, is not גניבת ממון. How does this work? Your high school grades very much affect what college you get into, which in turn affects your job prospects later on. How is this not גנבת ממון ממש?
Is Cheating on High School tests גניבת ממון?
1. Rav Moshe Feinstein זצ"ל (שו"ת אגרות משה חו"מ חלק ב' סימן ל') was asked about ישיבות that allow their students to steal the answers to regents examinations. Rav Feinstein pointed out that aside from the prohibition of גניבת דעת, dishonesty on exams also constitutes actual גניבה of money. People rely on grades when making decisions about who to admit into schools of higher learning and even when making hiring decisions. When one is hired for a job based on falsified grades, he is stealing the financial gain that he achieves as a result of his dishonesty. Rav Moshe does address potential excuses that one may advance to justify dishonesty: a. One cannot claim that he is qualified for the job anyway and the grades are meaningless because grades do reflect a level of knowledge and diligence that are reasonable qualities for a potential employer to look at when making hiring decisions. b. It is fairly common for ישיבה boys who dedicate themselves to תורה, to view secular studies as a waste of time. They may view studying as ביטול תורה, and instead opt to take whatever shortcuts are necessary to achieve a passing grade without having to take time away from their תורה studies. Rav Moshe points out the fallacy of such an argument. Such claims are more often based in laziness than in piety. In fact one who regularly cheats on exams trains himself to become lazy and inattentive in his intellectual pursuits, an attitude that will certainly carry over to his approach to torah study as well. c. Rav Moshe concludes his תשובה by telling the questioner not to be too concerned by the rumors that ישיבות allow their boys to cheat. After all, such conduct runs so counter to everything that a ישיבה tries to accomplish and the values it tries to inculcate in the students, that these accusations cannot possibly be true. There is no doubt, argues Rav Feinstein, that those who hate ישיבות and are only interested in slandering the ישיבות and destroying them, are the source of such rumors.
2. Rabbi Shmuel Wosner שליט"א (שו"ת שבט הלוי חלק י' סימן קסג) was approached by a principal of a girls school in Tel Aviv who was criticized for not allowing the students to cheat on exams. Apparently the parents in the school felt that it was a sort of tyranny being practiced by the principal in not allowing the students to be dishonest on exams. Rabbi Wosner, after expressing surprise that anybody would ever even need to ask this question, points out that cheating on exams involves multiple prohibitions. It is prohibited on account of גניבת דעת, lying (לא תשקרו ומדבר שקר תרחק), and it trains a person to become deceitful. Additionally, he runs the risk of being hired for a job for which he is not a competent candidate, thereby causing untold damage to his employer.
3. Rabbi J.D. Bleich (Contemporary Halachic Problems II) adds two more considerations not mentioned by the other פוסקים. a. “Teachers are employed to serve as proctors during examinations. A teacher who is not vigilant in assuring honesty on the part of the examinees – or worse, one who tacitly condones dishonest conduct – accepts payment for services that (which) have not been rendered. This, too, is a form of theft.” b. “When students or graduates of religious institutions engage in academic dishonesty of whatever form, their actions entail the gravest of all transgressions, namely, חילול ה', or profanation of the Divine Name.” (see רמב"ם הלכות דעות פרק ו')
If You “cheat on high school exams” then you violate both [Shemot 20:13] + [Vayikra 25:14] in order to falsely sell your “fraudulent intellectual property” for future financial aid from colleges | income from employers ( וְכִֽי־תִמְכְּר֤וּ מִמְכָּר֙ לַֽעֲמִיתֶ֔ךָ א֥וֹ קָנֹ֖ה מִיַּ֣ד עֲמִיתֶ֑ךָ אַל־תּוֹנ֖וּ אִ֥ישׁ אֶת־אָחִֽיו ).