College of Southern Nevada not alone in identifying financial aid errors

The College of Southern Nevada isn’t the state’s only higher education institution required to pay back money to the U.S. Department of Education because of financial aid errors, according to officials and records obtained by the Review-Journal.

However, none of the amounts other state colleges have had to reimburse was as significant as the $1.7 million CSN has to repay after miscalculating federal financial aid for thousands of students during the last two years.

“Systemwide, we process close to 100,000 files and there’s 30,000 at CSN,” Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, said earlier this month. “While you don’t want to see any errors, I think seeing some errors is probably expected.”

But, Klaich added, “I don’t recall anything of this magnitude before.”

A financial aid audit of the Nevada System of Higher Education, prepared by independent auditing firm Grant Thornton for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education and shows that financial aid departments at other state higher education institutions have erred on a smaller scale.

In a final audit determination letter sent last summer to system officials by the U.S. Department of Education, federal officials say the department has reviewed the corrective action plan and management’s response provided with the audit report.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas had to return $9,109 to the federal government during the 2011-12 fiscal year because a student withdrew from courses and there was an error in how the last day of attendance was determined. The money involved a Pell Grant and federal loans.

In such cases, UNLV repays the U.S. Department of Education, and students then owe the school, said Afsha Bawany, UNLV spokeswoman.

Norm Bedford, director of financial aid and scholarships at UNLV, said the $9,109 is a small fraction of the financial aid money the university disburses.

UNLV typically distributes $240 million in financial aid, Bedford said. Of that, about $200 million is federal aid.

The U.S. Department of Education gets concerned when schools need to return more than 5 percent of the total funds they disburse, he added.

The University of Nevada, Reno also had to repay $4,239 during the 2011-12 fiscal year for an incorrect cost of attendance.

Tim Wolfe, UNR financial aid director, said there was an out-of-state student who was reclassified as an in-state student. However, the financial aid department kept the student’s status as out-of-state, he said.

Officials have changed the student notification process and they are now notified right away when a student’s residency status changes.

“Every time we have an audit, we see if there are things we can improve on,” Wolfe said.

Incomplete verification issues were found at CSN and UNLV, according to records.

The audit found that nine out of 58 CSN students reviewed had outdated information on their federal financial aid applications.

Those human errors are likely what prompted the deeper review by the U.S. Department of Education, officials have said. After that was completed, the college decided to also review the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The college now has to repay about $1.7 million to the U.S. Department of Education for overpaying students during those two years.

CSN also will reimburse students who were underpaid in 2011-12. The amount is $128,857. In 2012-13, the college will have to reimburse students who were shorted by $97,143. The federal government will reimburse CSN for those payouts.

At UNLV, for six of 71 students tested, the university did not properly update their federal financial aid application, according to records.

While incomplete verification issues were also found at UNLV, no funds had to be returned or adjusted, according to records and officials.

“Those ones were attributable to human error and that was something that concerned me,” Bedford said. “I would like to see zero in any audit findings. I think that’s always the goal.”

UNLV added four additional staff members to its financial aid and scholarship processing unit in early 2012 to “allow greater office administrative capability, training opportunities, and cross checking of work for accuracy to minimize future compliance concerns,” according to records.

“You want to have redundant systems in place when you are dealing with money,” Bedford said.

UNLV created a new position and hired an associate director of processing in December 2012, Bawany said. The annual salary for the job is $65,000, which doesn’t reflect a 2.5 percent reduction through six mandated, unpaid furlough days. The university hopes to hire one more employee to bring its financial aid staff up to 28.

Additional staff members may also be added at CSN.

The college will pay $36,000 to Evans Consulting Group, a financial aid firm, to take a look at its financial aid department. On Oct. 14, the firm will send four to five consultants to the campus for two weeks.

The firm will then prepare a report for college officials with recommendations for improvements. Those recommendations could include adding additional staff, more training, or policy changes, Klaich said.

“Those are the areas that led to this because these are human errors,” he said.

Why did it take two years to discover the human errors at CSN?

“I think we’ve asked ourselves that same question,” Klaich said. “If you look back at the audit reports, the independent auditors selected a random number of files to review. They cited a number of those files that had inaccuracies, and they tested those files specifically, and found that there was no financial impact from the files they tested.”

There were other minor findings at UNR, UNLV and CSN that didn’t result in any financial liability for the schools. For example, CSN and UNR failed to inform students of their right to cancel all or part of a loan.

Both institutions have made changes to address the problem, among other findings that were a result of software issues and staff using a new system and institutions not returning funds within the prescribed time.

“Regarding the other findings, most of them are very discrete,” Klaich said. “This one (at CSN) turned out to be significant.”

Klaich believes that historically audits only looked at the three largest institutions because that’s where 95 percent of the financial aid transactions occur.

Grant Thornton conducts the annual independent audits for the Nevada System of Higher Education in the summer. Those audits go to the Board of Regents’ audit committee, and are then forwarded to the U.S. Department of Education.

In December, the audit for the 2012-13 fiscal year will go to the Board of Regents, and after it’s been approved, it will go to the U.S. Department of Education. CSN expects more findings, President Michael Richards said last week, although most of the findings will probably be those already identified by the Pro-Education Solutions, the firm that conducted a review for each of the two years the college overpaid and underpaid thousands of students.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (702) 383-0440, or yamaro@reviewjournal.com.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Social Work UNLV Lecturer's Calling
Ivet Aldaba-Valera was the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. The 33-year-old UNLV lecturer is now pursuing her Ph. D in public policy at the school and has used her degree in social work to engage with the young Latino and Latina community of Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
The world's longest racetrack could be coming to Pahrump
Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in Pahrump might be the first racetrack in the world longer than 16 miles long once the expansion is complete. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Gold Point townsperson talks about why he choose to live in a ghost town
Gold Point townsperson Walt Kremin talks about the ghost town in Nevada he calls home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Search for missing 3-year-old boy at Sunset Park
Las Vegas police and Red Rock Search and Rescue team search for a missing child at Sunset Park in southeast Las Vegas on Sunday, Sept.2, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai speaks at Las Vegas tech conference
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school in Pakistan after advocating for girls' education, spoke at VMworld 2018 at Mandalay Bay. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father recalls the night his 14-year-old son died jumping into moving traffic
From the Clark County Detention Center, Ezequiel Anorve Serrano talks about the night his 14-year-old son, Silas Anorve, died jumping into moving traffic on U.S. 95. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Palace Station unveils new sports book
Palace Station talks about the new sports book Thursday, August 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
One of world's longest racetracks planned in Pahrump by 2020
The racetrack will be 16 miles long by the year 2020 according to Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club owner John Morris. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Robotics takes off at Las Vegas Academy
Las Vegas Academy’s robotics team made it all the way to the world competition last year, the first year the team competed. Zackary Perry describes how they programmed their robot to compete. The team is an example of what Tesla wants to have in every school in the state. (Meghin Delaney/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bicyclist suffers major head trauma in hit-and-run
A bicyclist was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a Thursday morning hit-and-run crash near the school formerly known as Agassi Prep. Police said the bicyclist was hit by a white SUV, which fled the scene. The injured man suffered multiple injuries including major head trauma. As of 9 a.m., Lake Mead remained closed between Martin Luther King and Revere Street while police investigate.
Las Vegas artist Dave Dave dies at 42
Dave Dave talks about his art and his life in 2016. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dave Dave, whose dad set him on fire in 1983, dies
Dave Dave, a respected Las Vegas artist who was badly scarred as a boy when his father tried to burn him to death in Southern California, died at Sunrise Hospital on July 15. He was 42. When he was 6, Dave's father tried to kill him by setting him on fire. He was given a sleeping pill and his bed at a Buena Park, California, motel was doused with kerosene. “I remembered being in a lot of pain,” Dave told the Review-Journal in 2016. “When stuff happens to you at that young of an age, you tend to block it out, but I remember the pain was excruciating.” Dave, who was born David Rothenberg, became close friends with Michael Jackson, who met him after the attack, which burned more than 90 percent of his body. “I wanted to meet him, and he wanted to meet me, and that just turned into a lifelong relationship that never ended,” Dave said. “It was amazing being friends with Michael Jackson. He was an amazing person.” Dave attended ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and collaborated with various artists around Las Vegas, eventually selling his art to private collectors. Despite his challenges, he continued to live, thrive and create. Dave Dave
Homicide detectives investigate woman's death
Las Vegas police were called to Tahiti Village Resort early Wednesday after calls that someone had been shot. Police found a woman’s body between a parking garage and boiler room on the resort's property. A guest first reported hearing gunfire. There are no witnesses, but police will examine surveillance videos and look for clues. The woman was not identified, but a purse was found near the body. She did not appear to be a guest at the resort.
LVMPD Discusses Ross Dress for Less Shooting
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank discussed the 15th officer-involved shooting of the year at a press conference at Metro headquarters on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The active-shooter incident took place at the Ross Dress for Less store at the 4000 block Blue Diamond Road in the south Las Vegas Valley. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County School Board president Deanna Wright on travel expenses
Clark County School Board President Deanna Wright says she followed proper expense protocol in trip to Florida last year.
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Shooting leaves 1 dead in southeast valley
A man was found fatally shot in the doorway of a squatter apartment after an argument ended in gunfire on Sunday night. Officers responded about 10:30 p.m. to the Silver Pines apartments and discovered the man in a breezeway in one of the buildings. The wounded man died at the scene, despite the efforts of another person, who tried to administer medical aid. Witnesses saw a man and a woman flee the scene, but were unable to give police a clear description.
North Las Vegas unveils new school crosswalk
North Las Vegas councilman Isaac Barron talks about the new school crosswalk in front of CP Squires Elementary School Monday, August 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
LVMPD Briefing on OIS #13
Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly held a press conference to discuss details of the 13th officer-involved-shoot for the department in 2018. Video shows the moments before the suspect was shot. The shooting, which has been edited out, occurred as the suspect lunged at an officer outside the apartment. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sedan and semitrailer collide in south Las Vegas
An early Wednesday morning crash has left one person in critical condition. A sedan and semitrailer collided around 4 a.m. at the corner of Spencer Street and Serene Avenue. Police do not believe impairment is a factor in the crash. Spencer has been blocked off north of Serene while police continue their investigation.
Cybersecurity Professionals Flock to Las Vegas for Black Hat
Black Hat USA, the largest annual cybersecurity conference, is expecting a record 17,000 attendees during its six-day run at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center this week. One thing attendees have in mind is making sure they don't get hacked while they're there. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police chase ends with suspects captured in east Las Vegas
An early Tuesday morning chase ended with a car crash in an east Las Vegas neighborhood. Police were pursuing the vehicle, which they say was involved in robberies in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, when the driver crashed at Owens and Statz Street. A man was taken into custody. A woman was ejected from a vehicle and taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The intersection at Mojave Road and Owens Avenue was shut down while police officers searched for the suspect and investigated. The intersection will remain closed for most of the morning.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like