State Auditor Calls for Better Data Collection for Dept. of Higher Ed Programs

Programs to support foster child success in higher education...
State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump

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:

  1. The Foster Child Grant Program, which provides annual educational grants to college students that were placed in the care of the Department of Children and Families;
  2. The Foster Child Tuition Waiver and Fee Assistance Program, which provides tuition and fee waivers equal to 100 percent of the resident tuition rate to current or former foster children attending a public college or university in the Commonwealth; and
  3. The No Interest Loan Program, which provides zero-interest loans of up to $4,000 annually to students with financial need that are attending a public or private college or university in the Commonwealth.

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.

The audit of the Department of Higher Education is available here.


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