Tuition Assistance Program - Higher Education Services Corporation

 

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Office of the New York State Comptroller

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Tuition Assistance Program - Higher Education Services Corporation
SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology


Issued: May 7, 2012
Link to full audit report 2010-T-4

Purpose
To determine whether SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) management complied with the Education Law and the Commissioner of Education's Rules and Regulations when certifying students for State-funded Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) awards.

Background
FIT is a community college of the State University of New York located in Manhattan. Founded in 1944, FIT offers a variety of associate's and bachelor's degree programs in design, fashion, art, communications and business. The school's current enrollment is approximately 10,000 students and its annual tuition for New York State residents in full-time study is about $3,700 for associate's degrees and $5,160 for baccalaureate degrees. TAP is an entitlement program designed to provide funds to cover tuition costs for eligible students. Schools receiving TAP payments must certify student eligibility. For the three academic years ended June 30, 2009, FIT certified 9,705 TAP awards totaling nearly $10.5 million. We reviewed a random sample of 200 TAP awards from that period, as well as other awards outside the three-year period that came to our attention during the audit.

Key Findings

  • We determined that FIT was overpaid $598,537 because school officials incorrectly certified students as eligible for TAP awards. 
  • Twenty-one students received awards although they did not meet the requirements for full-time attendance. Ten students did not meet the requirements for maintaining good academic standing. One student did not meet the requirements for matriculation. One student presented insufficient proof of New York State residency.        

Key Recommendations

  • The Higher Education Services Corporation should recover $598,537 plus applicable interest, from FIT for its incorrect TAP certifications.
  • The Higher Education Services Corporation should ensure that FIT officials verify that residency requirements are met for students who are certified as eligible for TAP.  
  • The State Education Department should ensure that FIT officials comply with the State Education Department requirements relating to matriculation, full-time attendance, and good academic standing cited in report.  

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Higher Education Services Corporation: TAP Berkeley College (Manhattan Campuses) Report 2010-T-2
Higher Education Services Corporation: TAP Professional Business College Report 2010-T-3


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
Phone:(518) 474-3271; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236