Southern University vows to improve board member scholarship program oversight in response to audit

    In response to a new audit urging the Southern University System to tighten its oversight of a board member scholarship program, system president Ray Belton says he will recommend the supervisory body create more specific criteria for the awards and review current practices.

    The audit, released this morning by Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera, shows that of the 141 scholarships the Southern University System Board of Supervisors disbursed over the past two academic years, seven students received scholarship amounts above the maximum $1,000. Meanwhile, one student got a scholarship without meeting the GPA requirements and two board members recommended more in scholarship dollars than their allotted amount, the audit shows.

    These were just some of the oversight problems Purpera says he found with Southern’s Educational Assistance Scholarship program when financial auditors checked to see whether the scholarships awarded in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years complied with the board’s own policy. Each academic year, every Southern board member is allotted a certain amount in scholarships, or partial tuition waivers not to exceed $1,000 each, to award to students attending any system institution.

    The audit found required reports on the scholarship program annually were submitted late and included inaccurate scholarship amounts, listed names of students who did not receive an award, misspelled names and misidentified campus locations.

    “The system is committed to correcting these findings and will implement internal controls to ensure future compliance,” reads Belton’s response to the findings in the audit.

    Specifically, Belton says the System Scholarship Committee will recommend that the board of supervisors review criteria for the program and provide recommendations for more specific criteria. The Office of Student Financial Aid will be asked to revise their current compliance review process to ensure that errors are better detected and corrected, Belton adds.

    See the complete audit, which includes Belton’s full response.

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