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Federal review found Paine student aid violations

Saturday, May 17, 2014 4:16 PM
Last updated Sunday, May 18, 2014 1:40 AM
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A U.S. Department of Ed­u­cation review last year at Paine College – prompted by allegations of financial mismanagement – found the school had violated a dozen areas of federal student financial aid regulations ranging from withholding refund checks from students to inadequate bookkeeping, documents obtained by The Augusta Chronicle show.

As of mid-March, Paine College was still in noncompliance in three areas identifed in a review last year by the U.S. Department of Education, a department letter states.  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
As of mid-March, Paine College was still in noncompliance in three areas identifed in a review last year by the U.S. Department of Education, a department letter states.

The department submitted these findings regarding the 2011-12 and 2012-13 years to Paine in June after an on-site visit in November 2012 and required corrective actions to be taken by the college.

Over the past year, Paine officials have had to submit to the department evidence that they have revised policies and corrected financial errors affecting student accounts. As of March 14, Paine is still in noncompliance in three of the 12 initial areas, according to a letter from the Department of Education:

• Inaccurate records: Paine officials were not keeping adequate internal records on Pell Grant and Federal Direct Loan payments they were posting to student accounts. The total amount of funds the school drew from the government in 2011 and 2012 exceeded the amount posted to students’ accounts in samples reviewed by the department. Paine was required to provide evidence of the disbursements posted to student accounts. Monthly reconciliations were also not being completed for federal funds between the school’s internal ledgers and federal reporting systems. The school was also found to have used federal funds for payroll expenses before posting the money to student accounts.

• Student credit balance deficiencies: Of 30 student files randomly selected by the department for review, Paine was found to have withheld refunds or paid refunds late for seven students. According to the department’s review, it is possible the delay was caused by the diversion of Title IV funds to make payroll instead of using the funds for program purposes such as paying balances to students.

• Current year funding used for prior year charges: For one student of the 30 randomly sampled, Paine never awarded his $1,443 refund but instead posted it to his account for the next term. Ac­cor­ding to federal regulations, an institution can only use Title IV funds to satisfy a student’s current year charges, tuition and fees, room and board and certain prior year charges.

Brandon Brown, Paine’s vice president for institutional advancement, said the problems identified by the Education Department had to do with faulty processes and procedures that have since been revamped.

Declining to provide names, Brown said the college has restructured its business and fiscal affairs departments with competent people after years of instability and has implemented better safeguards to prevent mismanagement.

“There is a new set of internal controls that we’ve put in place. Certainly the review process is very important that we engage in now, and there are checks and balances,” Brown said. “We have conversations weekly about our processes and how we make sure we follow the guidelines. There’s a lot more scrutiny now than we’ve ever had in place, and we visualize continuing that.”

Brown credited the new vice president of fiscal affairs, Debra Latimore, formerly of Shaw University, for enforcing checks and balances for fiscal issues.

The need for Paine to correct financial mismanagement has grown more urgent over the past several years. In June 2013, Paine was placed on its second year of warning status by its accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, for various financial violations.

The regional body gave Paine 12 months to come into compliance or risk facing further sanction. SACS is due to release sanction disclosures for 2014 this summer.

The other nine violations identified by the Education De­part­ment in June that Paine has since corrected or created policies to prevent were found by reviewing a random sample of 30 student files. They included:

• Overawarding Pell: One student received $200 extra.

• Not verifying enrollment: One student was awarded $1,025 in a Pell Grant when he was not enrolled.

• Underawarding direct loans: Two students were given less loan disbursements than they were entitled to receive.

• Incorrect tax verification; One student’s tax information was not verified before she was given federal aid.

• Conflicting informa­­tion: Two students showed conflicting tax information on financial aid documents.

• Academic progress not met: One student did not make the satisfactory academic progress required for federal aid, and his college-level appeal wasn’t completed before receiving the funds.

• Title IV return errors: Of two students randomly selected for review from a list of all withdrawn students, both had calculation errors. Paine overreported the amount of direct loans dispersed to one student on a federal worksheet. Paine overreported tuition costs for the second student.

• Failure to reconcile student accounts: The amount and dates of direct loans and Pell Grants actually credited to student accounts did not match what was reported in federal databases.

• Financial aid packaged incorrectly: For five of the 30 sampled students, Paine did not award the full cost of attendance or make them aware of their full direct-loan eligibility. In all cases, students received less money than they were entitled.

Brown said along with strengthening internal controls to address these issues, students are given more guidance on how to fill out financial forms and enroll for aid. He said the school is focused on continuing to recruit high-achieving students and “doing what we do best, which is educating students.”

“We still have a ways to go, but we believe through our new processes and internal controls and leadership we have in place we are going to get there,” he said. “Certainly this has been in many ways a tough time, but that’s what makes institutions better.”

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Pops
6987
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Pops 05/17/14 - 07:46 pm
22
2
Sounds like the statement below is way down the list

"He said the school is focused on continuing to recruit high-achieving students and “doing what we do best, which is educating students.”

Joke....big joke

nocnoc
38642
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nocnoc 05/17/14 - 07:45 pm
14
2
Paine has a 90%+ of its students attending on Student aid

That fact is easily uncovered looking on Google.
Source after source points this out.

---------------
IS THERE A BIGGER PICTURE?
Given the GRU space issues and etc...
I wonder if President AZZZZZZZ! has his eyes on a private college
acquisition for expansion and Dorms?

It is a lot closer than the Mills.☺

corgimom
28190
Points
corgimom 05/17/14 - 07:54 pm
14
4
But they NEED the taxpayers

But they NEED the taxpayers to supply an Arts Center.

nocnoc
38642
Points
nocnoc 05/17/14 - 08:03 pm
6
1
jdsgirl63
2039
Points
jdsgirl63 05/17/14 - 09:35 pm
13
2
With all the shady activity

With all the shady activity going on at Paine in recent years, I'd wonder how accurate the graduation numbers actually are.

RMSHEFF
14102
Points
RMSHEFF 05/17/14 - 09:41 pm
10
2
It sounds like math and

It sounds like math and finance are not taught at Paine.

Riverman1
79612
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Riverman1 05/17/14 - 09:45 pm
7
4
"Do I hear 5 million for Paine?"

"Do I hear 5 million for Paine?"

GiantsAllDay
9089
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GiantsAllDay 05/17/14 - 10:00 pm
5
1
I went to a wedding there

I went to a wedding there once. They have a real nice chapel.

Young Fred
15724
Points
Young Fred 05/17/14 - 10:33 pm
8
4
"Paine does have a better

"Paine does have a better graduation rate 27.4 %
than what use to be called Augusta State Univ. 22.3 %"

Considering the quality of the education, and how much students are actually intellectually challenged, Paine's graduation rate should be three times that of ASU!

dichotomy
30702
Points
dichotomy 05/17/14 - 11:35 pm
11
2
Let's DON'T give Paine $5+

Let's DON'T give Paine $5+ million dollars for a "cultural" center. The place has been mismanaged for years and it is still being mismanaged. How stupid are we anyway?

gargoyle
13596
Points
gargoyle 05/17/14 - 11:45 pm
10
0
After a warning to find that

After a warning to find that high of a rate of violations is disappointing. The administration at Paine must not think a penalty will be applied or will not affect their paycheck.

Bizkit
29242
Points
Bizkit 05/18/14 - 12:33 am
7
2
They had already been

They had already been admonished by SACS for the same problem-then a year later both Dept of Ed and SACS admonished them for the same problem. That is just criminal. June this coming month SACS is back-we will see how they see the school considering the violence the last year, turnover of majority of faculty with loss of dean and dept chairs and an interim Vice-President because they fired the last. Strange to see so many Department chairs are assistant professors and junior faculty with little experience? Few full professors at all. That is really odd and a bad sign of mismanagement. SACS won't like that.

Young Fred
15724
Points
Young Fred 05/18/14 - 03:11 am
7
2
But, but, but, Paine is,

But, but, but, Paine is, we'll Paine.

It shouldn't be compared, or even held to ANY type of standard.

To be fair, it seems a degree in education from Paine will perfectly set you up for a career in public education. Their dept. Of education specializes in training public school teachers in the art of mediocrity (if they're lucky enough to advance that far)

geecheeriverman
1667
Points
geecheeriverman 05/18/14 - 07:23 am
11
1
Check

I believe if you will check most of the predominately black colleges, you will find the same problems occur at most of them. They wink and nod, because they know nothing will be done because they are in the "Minority". We, the "Uncle Toms" in America are out to get them all if we even bring this type of stuff up. I see this only getting worse in the future.

nocnoc
38642
Points
nocnoc 05/18/14 - 08:02 am
6
1
While tossing stones at Paine is easy.

What would be the suggestions to Paine to get its act together, before GRU "acquires the property by a sneaky process or default?

Paine has always been there to provide Inter-city college teens the opportunity to attend college, when Blacks were refused access to Southern White College.

At one time the UNCF provided a lot of $$$$$ to Black focused colleges to keep them alive. But donations to the UNCF have dropped off over the years, as Blacks in greater numbers, are being accepted to any college nationwide.

While Paine isn't ranked as high as others with better STATE and Alumni funding in GA. It stands to reason there will be a funding, staff, and facility recruitment issues.

While Paine's graduation standards may not be a anal retentive as Augusta College English 101. They do or did meet Southern Conf standards like other Ga. Colleges.

Given the CRA of 1965, such race based colleges are doomed to eventually fail. To succeed Paine MUST open their doors, shake off the We "Shall Over Come Image" and seek out a racial balance.

MY SUGGESTION
Start a On-line/weekend class 2 & 4 year Degree program to attract more working students.

Bizkit
29242
Points
Bizkit 05/18/14 - 08:03 am
5
2
But now just like the SCOTUS

But now just like the SCOTUS has denounced affirmative action it seems that a dinosaur of segregation like a black college should be dismantled because of racism. I mean some ole white dude wants to hang a confederate flag is meant with harsh criticism yet blacks can have historic Black college. It's just a vestige of segregation and shouldn't be tolerated.

just an opinion
2366
Points
just an opinion 05/18/14 - 08:12 am
3
1
Some one post salaries please

What are the administrators making? Who are they and what are their credentials?

Bizkit
29242
Points
Bizkit 05/18/14 - 08:18 am
4
1
I didn't realize Paine was a

I didn't realize Paine was a tax-exempt school. The FACT book is filled with info:http://www.paine.edu/docs/about/FactBook/FactBook_Complete.pdf

raul
4155
Points
raul 05/18/14 - 08:30 am
5
1
Yeah, let's give these fools

Yeah, let's give these fools even more taxpayer money. NOT!

Bizkit
29242
Points
Bizkit 05/18/14 - 08:45 am
5
2
They should have lost their

They should have lost their tax-exempt status for using student loan dollars for paying delinquent bills.

nocnoc
38642
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nocnoc 05/18/14 - 08:46 am
4
1
OBTW:

What was the outcome on all that STOLEN / MISSING Computer Equipment at Paine 2 years ago?

Bizkit
29242
Points
Bizkit 05/18/14 - 09:08 am
3
2
Probably either a student or

Probably either a student or some faculty stole it. I don't remember reading about that-was a lot of computers stolen? I understand they have to tie everything down from being stolen from either. Nocnoc you seemed informed why does the Paine faculty turnover so much-are people being fired or are they leaving? People are there for 3-5 years and leave/fired at a time when they usually are seeking promotion or tenure. Makes no sense. They have mostly assistant professors-most schools have more full professor and associate professors. I wonder what was the outcome of all those lawsuits-like the ole female Vice President who filed a major complaint? Seems the school can get away with murder and no repercussions? Whenever some issue arises they are very shadowy and aloof with the info and being transparent. They have a poor public relations.

Bizkit
29242
Points
Bizkit 05/18/14 - 09:11 am
2
3
With all their problems with

With all their problems with SACS to even keep the school open I don't understand why they ventured with an expensive football team? That just seems insane. They need to get the school together and be fiscally sound before they even attempt a football team. We know the last two years they have NOT BEEN FISCALLY SOUND.

dsterling9
652
Points
dsterling9 05/18/14 - 09:12 am
6
1
PAY ATTENTION COMMISSIONERS

Pay attention to all the problems within the entities asking for taxpayer funds (SPLOST). Unless the money goes directly to the Augusta/Richmond County government it should be revoked.

sand gnat
397
Points
sand gnat 05/18/14 - 09:58 am
0
1
Great Investment

I can't think of anything better than the citizens of Augusta giving this private, tax exempt college local tax dollars through SPLOST. Your local tax dollars supporting non-resident students is an accolade to the great local politicians who are not influenced by special interest groups or political pirating. You bet.

Bizkit
29242
Points
Bizkit 05/18/14 - 12:59 pm
3
0
They must have an issue

They must have an issue finding qualified people. I noted their Science department must have fired the chair and all but one of the old faculty, because now they have a new chair and all new faculty. Must have had some issue with SACS and the faculty being of poor quality so they fixed that problem. We should give Paine the benefit of doubt they are addressing their problems with such drastic changes. I would support them cleaning house and firing incompetent or unproductive faculty as must be the case. I guess GRU has had a lot of turnover with faculty too so it may just be a sign of the times-everyone is so mobile.

Sweet son
9716
Points
Sweet son 05/18/14 - 01:12 pm
4
1
Like others have said! Our dumb commissioners and the mayor

are going to give these thieves more money to steal or mismanage. It will be interesting to see if they get the SPLOST whether they can raise their matching funds. Heck, they might wiggle around and take Federal student money to supplement their matching funds. I hope the United Methodist Church of which I have been affiliated with all of my life and supports Paine will not feel pressure to give them anything towards matching funds. I just hope they are smarter than our Commission.

Bizkit
29242
Points
Bizkit 05/18/14 - 04:58 pm
0
1
The civil lawsuits from the

The civil lawsuits from the shooter (stated he had recurring problems and Paine was aware) and then the victim (shot in a classroom in their major academic building) will take a toll on Paine so they could use the money from Splost. That and other pending lawsuits-they are probably strapped for cash.

...point to ponder
714
Points
...point to ponder 05/18/14 - 06:04 pm
2
1
SPLOST....vote no...no...no

No funds to this PRIVATE school!

There has been no accountability from the last funds given and I wouldn't foresee any accountability to any new funds going there!
No--No--No....

They must either stand or fall on their own account!

****no more taxpayer dollars need be sent there.... It is wrong..PERIOD!

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