Nash Community College has responded to three reported findings by the Office of the State Auditor concerning irregularities in the way it did business.

While the state audit of the City of Rocky Mount has drawn a great deal of attention, audits of government agencies and institutions that receive government funds commonly are conducted.

Nash Community College underwent such a routine audit last year and several findings emerged concerning its financial aid process.

This was the first time the college had been audited concerning these issues in more than 30 years, said Kelley Deal, dean of marketing at Nash Community College. The reason this audit happened, Deal said, is unknown.

“The college could not find documentation of NCC having a financial aid audit conducted by the Office of the State Auditor after investigating back to 1987. The college undergoes numerous audits each year, several concerning financial aid, so is well audited by many state, regional and federal bodies. The question as to ‘why now’ is simply not answerable by the college except that these particular items most likely were not covered in the scope of the other audits,” she said.

According to the report summary of the audit, there were three procedural findings.

First, the college did not reconcile Federal Direct Loan disbursements to students to the Department of Education records, the report stated.

Second, the audit reported that the college did not timely report enrollment status changes to the National Student Loan Data System.

Third, the audit found that the college’s risk assessment over protecting students’ financial aid information did not include all of the elements as required by federal regulations.

With regard to the question about the Federal Loan Disbursements, Deal said the issue primarily was one of timing.

“Auditors tested monthly reconciliations during the audit period and found that the reconciliations were not performed for five months in the fall of 2018. At the time of the audit, all loan reconciliations were correct as to their monetary amounts, just not on the proper schedule. The college accepted the Office of State Auditor’s finding and recommendation and implemented the indicated corrections with no negative implications,” Deal said.

The issue of timely reporting of students’ financial aid information also has been corrected, Deal said.

“The college did not timely report enrollment status changes for five students to the National Student Loan Data System for students who received federal financial assistance. The college accepted the Office of State Auditor’s finding and recommendation and implemented the indicated corrections with no negative implications,” she noted.

The third issue involved items that recently had been amended in the federal regulations and which the college overlooked, Deal said.

“The college’s risk assessment processes for protecting student financial aid information did not include all of the elements as required by federal regulations. The college was unaware at the time of the audit that federal regulations had been amended to require a risk assessment that identifies risks to employee training and management over the security, confidentiality and integrity of students’ financial aid information. The college accepted the Office of State Auditor’s finding and recommendation and implemented the indicated corrections with no negative implications,” Deal said.

None of the findings have affected the college financially or in any other way, Deal said. But they did serve to help the college correct these issues so that it could improve operations and better serve students.

“The state audit resulted in no fines and no return of federal funds,” Deal said. “Nash Community College appreciates the efforts of the Office of the State Auditor to assist us in maintaining best practices in the area of financial aid as well as all other college operations.”

In a letter to State Auditor Beth Wood dated Dec. 19, 2019, Nash Community College President Lew Hunnicutt said much the same thing.

After detailing all of the corrective actions taken by the community college to comply with the findings of the audit, Hunnicutt said, “Through the above practices, Nash Community College adheres to the requirements of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to take ongoing, proactive and well-documented measures to educate its employees regarding security, confidentiality and integrity of student financial aid data. Corrective actions were completed on Nov. 15, 2019.

“The college appreciates your assistance through this audit process,” Hunnicutt stated in his letter to Wood.