Students owe South Louisiana Community College $2.9 million as a result of the college’s inadequate collection procedures, a recent Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s report says.
“Failure to establish adequate collection procedures increases the risk that the accounts will become uncollectible and may impair the College’s funding of ongoing operations,” auditors report.
Auditors found that while the college does have a policy to send students three collection letters prior to reporting them to the Attorney General’s Office for nonpayment, the policy wasn’t always followed.
In some cases, no terms or conditions for payment were created at the time a student account was created. In other cases, students were admitted to the college despite outstanding balances. And in other instances, the college didn’t send collection letters or didn’t turn in defaulted accounts to the Attorney General’s Office.
Personnel turnover and a switch to a new payment system played a role in some of the auditors’ findings, SLCC vice chancellor for student services David Volpe wrote in the college’s response to the findings.
The college also extended additional time for students to pay their balances and continue their education due to extenuating circumstances and to technical issues with the software payment program, Volpe wrote.
“The Student Accounts Office is attempting to develop an automated hold process to reduce the number of students with balances who are permitted to register, and a functional method to rapidly identify students who experience account status change post registration for a future term,” Volpe wrote.
That process should be in place by March 31, he said.
The college’s “inadequate collection procedures” for student accounts was flagged in last year’s audit, as well, though the college did resolve issues related to its management of the federal Pell grant program, the report says.
However, auditors found other issues of the college’s noncompliance with federal regulations regarding federal reporting practices for student eligibility for Title IV funds and could potentially owe the U.S. Department of Education up to $53,196.
The audit also reveals inefficient practices when determining students’ eligibility for federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans, with auditors finding some students were eligible for loans but were not offered or notified of the option. Those errors were identified by the college and corrected at the end of the 2014-15 academic year, Volpe wrote.