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Grambling: Access to Federal Financial Aid Not in Jeopardy

GRAMBLING, La. ― Grambling State University will continue to have access to federal financial aid programs and is working to fix oversight issues cited this week by the state legislative auditor, a school official said Tuesday.

According to an audit released Monday, Grambling failed to return nearly $15,000 in aid within an allotted time period that went to eight students who dropped out in the last year. Consequences for violating the rule include sanctions or termination of access to federal aid programs.

About 90 percent of Grambling’s students get some kind of aid, including federal Title IV funds like Pell Grants and Stafford Loans. If a student drops out, the school and student are required to refund a proportionate amount of the aid to the U.S. Department of Education within 45 days.

Leon Sanders, GSU’s vice president for Finance and Administration, told The Times-Picayune on Tuesday that the education department has not indicated it will cut the university’s funding.

While the school considers the violation serious, the relatively low dollar amount falls short of what would trigger federal government action, he said.

“It does not bring it to the level of being sanctioned by the federal government at this point,” Sanders said of the violation. “While that was significant, it was not a tremendously huge amount.”

Sanders’ statement could not be confirmed with officials in Washington, as the federal government remained closed Tuesday due to inclement weather.

Sanders added the school has since returned the $14,992 and is undertaking oversight improvements, as noted in its response to the auditor’s report, to prove “we’re good stewards of the funds we receive.”

Losing access to the funding would represent a major blow to the small school of just over 5,200, which earlier this year grabbed national headlines after its football team boycotted an away game in protest over the firing of head coach Doug Williams as well as complaints over poor facility conditions.

Grambling is in the worst financial state of the nine University of Louisiana campuses, system president Sandra Woodley recently confirmed. She added, however, that the school has been able to keep enrollment steady even as tuition has increased and enrollment requirements have become more stringent.

Officials also noted that last November the school for the first time received an audit finding no significant control deficiencies, noncompliance or errors.

Going forward, Sanders said Grambling, and many other public institutions of higher education, would become more dependent on federal aid as state funds continue to diminish.

Due to recent budget cuts, Grambling has increased class size, upped the number of courses each faculty member is expected to teach, eliminated a number of degree programs and outsourced services like maintenance to save money.

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