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NW-SCC financial aid audit ends

Northwest-Shoals Community College recently announced the conclusion of a three-year financial aid audit, reporting it has come to an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education.

“During the 2017 fall semester, the college identified abnormal refunds that were issued to students. Through further investigation, an issue with the software packaging that calculates refunds was identified and corrected,” said NW-SCC public information officer Trent Randolph.

NW-SCC and the DOE have agreed to the college’s repayment of $1,077,494 in final liability, with the college given the right to seek recovery of erroneously refunded monies in a separate DOE process.

“The recovery of erroneously refunded monies refers to only funds exchanged in the 2017 fall semester between NW-SCC and the DOE,” Randolph said. “When the initial error was identified, the college repaid approximately $400,000 to the DOE. After further examination during the 2018-19 year, that amount repaid was higher than it should have been, and the college will seek to recoup the overpayments of the correct amount,” Randolph said.

The agreement is a result of an audit launched to identify students receiving Title IV financial aid funds to which they were not entitled in fiscal years 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, Randolph explained.

The college has maintained reserve funds sufficient for the repayment, which was remitted to DOE May 1.

Randolph said the college will not ask any student to repay any financial aid overpayment he or she received.

According to a press release about the audit, NW-SCC has implemented new processes and procedures to ensure mistakes like these won’t happen again. Some of those changes include state and national training for college employees; modified software to properly calculate Satisfactory Academic Progress; a revised procedure and policy manual to adequately reflect the software changes; and the implementation of new financial aid procedural forms.