BOSTON, MA —State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today issued an audit of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s (DHE) administration of several programs that provide financial assistance to qualifying students. She called upon the agency to expand its efforts to track and analyze the educational performance of programs designed to support foster children, and she called out the improper use of funds in the no interest loan (NIL) program.
“The Legislature has recognized that foster children may need special assistance to access higher education and to succeed. In order to know whether the grant and waiver programs are actually helping these students, they should be tracking their educational performance rate. If these students are struggling or dropping out, the schools and policymakers should know and determine if other interventions are required to help these students whose lives often have been marked by trauma and disruption,” Bump said. “As for the administration of the NIL program, the juggling of these funds and their use to pay other costs is improper and should cease.”
Bump’s audit looked at three college financial assistance programs administered by DHE:
The Department of Higher Education serves as the staff to the 13-member Board of Higher Education, which is responsible for defining the mission of the Commonwealth’s system of public higher education and its institutions. It is part of the Executive Office of Education and had 56 staff members at the end of the audit period. In Fiscal Year 2016 it received state appropriations of $143,016,099.