Louisiana Auditor finds issues with UL Lafayette student loan reports

A recent state audit University of Louisiana in Lafayette found some issues regarding reporting procedures for student loans and federal funding.

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Report published on June 29 indicates that, for the second year in a row, the university had not implemented adequate controls to ensure that returns of Title IV (federal student aid) funds were calculated accurately, as required by federal regulations.

Auditors looked at a sample of 25 out of 564 students who were assessed for return of funds. Three students, or 12%, had an incorrect withdrawal date, causing UL Lafayette to miscalculate the percentage of payment period completed.

This appears to be the result of not having adequate procedures in place to identify the correct withdrawal date for all students. The auditors therefore recommended that management strengthen controls to ensure that all return of funds calculations are performed accurately and in accordance with federal regulations.

UL management has submitted a corrective action plan.

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Auditors also found that UL failed to inform students and/or parents receiving Federal Direct Loans of their right to cancel all or part of their loan disbursements and of the procedures and time frames within which they were to notify the ‘establishment.

In a sample of 40 direct federal loan disbursement transactions that were assessed, 11 students and/or parents, representing 27.5%, did not receive automated emails informing them of these rights.

This lack of information results in non-compliance with federal regulations and could impact student and/or parent decision-making, according to the audit.

Auditors recommended that management strengthen controls to ensure that all borrowers of direct federal loans receive required information, and university leaders outlined a corrective action plan to be implemented.

Also for the second year in a row, the school did not have a formal documented risk assessment or related safeguards to meet the minimum requirements of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act standards for protecting student information at the during the 2020-21 award year.

Although the school has information technology policies and practices that require employee training, a documented disaster recovery plan, etc., but management has not conducted a formal documented assessment hazards, including protective measures to address identified hazards, as required by federal regulations.

As a result, there is an increased risk of unauthorized disclosure, misuse, alteration, destruction, or other compromise of student information and results in non-compliance with federal regulations.

And the university has not adequately implemented controls to ensure compliance with certain reporting requirements for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).

The U.S. Department of Education has required separate quarterly public reporting for the institutional portion and the student aid portion, and auditors have asked the university to implement a review process that will identify errors in amounts quarterly and annual reports for HEERF.

The university also did not have adequate controls in place to ensure that personnel expenditures and efforts charged to federal research and development (R&D) awards accurately reflected the work performed and did not adequately monitor sub-recipients of the R&D cluster programs.

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The auditors tested a sample of 25 transactions on a population of 22,636 salary and non-salary expenses charged to R&D grants.

For 11, or 44%, of payroll transactions, UL Lafayette was unable to provide documentation proving that personnel expenses, totaling $11,482, were supported by evidence of time and effort for ensure the accuracy of budget estimates charged to federal grants, as required. by federal regulations.

And without after-the-fact review to ensure the accuracy of costs and personnel efforts charged to scholarships, the university could not ensure compliance with special testing requirements and key personnel effort provisions.

A bright spot in the 2022 audit is that the school has resolved findings from last year’s audit related to improper system access and unreported changes in enrollment status.

Contact Leigh Guidry, Children’s Issues Reporter, at [email protected] or on Twitter @LeighGGuidry.

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