October 29, 2018

State Fair Community College (SFCC) received the Final Program Review Determination from the U.S. Department of Education regarding an audit covering the college’s administration of financial aid authorized by the Title IV of Higher Education Act of 1965.

Title IV funds pertain to all monies awarded to students through Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan, Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, Direct PLUS Loan, Federal Pell Grant, and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant.

SFCC announced the institution had total liabilities of $393,739.50 as a result of the findings, which are currently under review.

The audit initially focused on a sampling of student accounts from 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. The results from the sampling found a compliance issue, which expanded the scope of the audit from 2013-2014 through 2017-2018.

During the period from 2013-2014 through 2017-2018, SFCC awarded more than $84 million in federal financial aid, making the $393,738.50 in liabilities 0.468 percent of the total federal aid disbursed.

“While it is never good to have findings against the college, when we look at the amount of liabilities with respect to the total amount of aid disbursed for those five years, the college was fiscally sound in administration of the aid,” said Dr. Joanna Anderson, college president.

A significant amount of the findings ($225,341.55) stems from a one-year General Education Certificate.

The number of students enrolled in the General Education Certificate program during the audit’s initial review of 2014-2016 was 48. When the audit was extended to include academic years 2013-14 through 2017-2018, the total number of students in the certificate program was 102.

“This was an instance in which having only a few students enrolled in a certificate program was actually a positive,” said Anderson.

The academic year 2015-2016 had the highest enrollment in the certificate program with 26 students or 0.376 percent of the unduplicated head count of 6,905 for the year.

“Of course, our goal is to always be 100 percent compliant,” said Anderson.  “Title IV is a very complex issue; the audit identified areas in some of those complicated processes that have since been corrected.”

While the college has retained legal counsel to review the feasibility of an appeal, the SFCC Board of Trustees voted on Oct. 23 to authorize repayment up to the full amount of the findings, pending the outcome of the review.

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