CSN to hire technology specialist to overhaul financial aid system

After receiving a report detailing problems within its financial aid department, the College of Southern Nevada is continuing to improve operations in staffing and technology.

CSN will hire a technology specialist within the next few days to overhaul the school’s financial aid system.

The Oracle systems developer will start a discovery phase immediately and later will prepare a redesign and restructuring of the system.

The changes are part of the school’s effort to correct financial aid mistakes that cost the college $1.7 million in repayments to the U.S. Department of Education. Thousands of financial aid recipients were underpaid or overpaid.

Money owed for mistakes during the 2012-2013 school year have been repaid using auxiliary reserves, and payments for the 2011-2012 school year are still in progress. The college is awaiting instruction from the Department of Education, Patty Charlton, vice president of financial aid at CSN, said last week.

Evans Consulting Group conducted an on-site review during a period of 10 days in October and delivered the report to the college in February. A chart that accompanies the report organizes issues under four categories: people, process audit and technology.

Other important findings include errors in calculating the cost of attendance, repeating errors that were identified in previous audits and a lack of process to determine attendance before disbursing funds.

In line with Evans’ “people” recommendations, the college is improving privacy by redesigning the financial aid and registrar’s offices and is holding regular meetings and training sessions for employees. Student workers have been removed from the front office.

The college also is hiring an assistant vice president of financial aid and a compliance and quality control manager. The search for an assistant VP will start this week, and the manager search will begin later.

Charlton said the office also is finalizing the job description of a financial literacy manager.

In a late February report to the Board of Regents, President Michael Richards said the first round of personnel changes had been completed. Eight were hired a year and a half ago, and proposed tuition increases will add four positions per year.

An consultant from Evans was hired last year to temporarily serve on staff but is likely to depart this summer after hiring of additional staffers is complete.

Pro-Education Solutions, an enrollment and revenue management firm, provided verification services for the 2013-2014 school year and will verify 2014-2015. The college will evaluate the contract on a year-to-year basis.

“We had a smooth start to the spring semester,” Charlton said. “The team has really come together and is embracing the new process.”

Note: An earlier version of this story said Great Basin College, Truckee Meadows Community College, Nevada State College and Western Nevada College would also use the new financial aid system. A spokesman for Nevada System of Higher Education said only CSN will use the updated system.

Contact reporter Kristy Totten at ktotten@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3809. Follow @kristy_tea on Twitter.