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Audit: FSCJ approved too much financial aid, will cost $2.5M

5:22 PM, Jun 5, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A financial aid error is costing Florida State College at Jacksonville at least $2.5 million.

The problem deals with the approval of financial aid for students at the school.

On Tuesday, FSCJ President Steve Wallace and District Board of Trustees Chairman Jim McCollum announced that an audit showed too many financial aid appeals were granted without proper documentation.

According to school leaders, during the 2010-2011 school year, 48,000 financial aid applications were filed. There were 6,000 appeals, and around 700 potential errors. McCollum said there could be up to 900 errors.

The US Department of Education sent a letter wanting financial aid information about the 2011-2012 school year as well.

McCollum said it will cost the school "in excess of" $2.5 million.

The school will try to get some of that from students who were incorrectly approved for financial aid.

Letters have been sent to those students who received financial aid.

Those students will need to provide documentation proving they needed that aid.

Those cases will be considered "cleared."

McCollum gave three reasons about why the errors happened.

He said, "first, an extraordinary staff workload due to the unprecedented number of financial aid applications, services, and appeals. Second, the compassionate staff and their well-meaning but misguided efforts to help students stay in school and graduate. Third, poor judgement in the granting of appeals before all requirements were met."

On a separate but related note, the FSCJ Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition by 3 percent.

The decision took place at a regularly scheduled board meeting later in the afternoon.

School officials expect the increase will up tuition by about $100 dollars a year, from $3,000 to $3,100.

First Coast News

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