Tuition Assistance Program - Higher Education Services Corporation

 

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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Tuition Assistance Program - Higher Education Services Corporation
Metropolitan Learning Institute


Issued: February 18, 2016
Link to full audit report 2014-T-1

Purpose
To determine whether the Metropolitan Learning Institute 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 and other State financial aid.  

Background
TAP is an entitlement program designed to provide funds for paying tuition costs in New York postsecondary institutions. Schools receiving TAP payments certify student eligibility. The Metropolitan Learning Institute (Metropolitan) is a licensed private career school headquartered in Rego Park with additional instruction sites in Jackson Heights, Brooklyn and Jersey City. (Only students enrolled at the New York locations may receive State financial aid.) The school offers ten vocational programs that are registered with the State Education Department (SED). For the three academic years ended June 30, 2012, the school certified 4,605 TAP awards totaling almost $8.7 million that were paid on behalf of 1,890 students. At the time of our audit, Metropolitan served about 550 students. Tuition costs average $16,500 per program. We reviewed a sample of 125 randomly selected TAP awards paid during the three years ended June 30, 2012, as well as other awards to these students through fall 2012.

Key Findings

  • We determined that Metropolitan was overpaid $581,315 because school officials incorrectly certified students as eligible for State financial aid awards.
  • Incorrect certifications include nine students who were not properly matriculated. For eight students, the school did not retain their enrollment agreements demonstrating that the students had been informed of program requirements, tuition and other fees, the school’s refund policy, etc. The other student’s enrollment agreement was not signed by an SED licensed agent.
  • Additional incorrect certifications include two students who did not meet the full-time requirements, three students who did not enroll in the second module and one student who did not demonstrate her academic preparedness.

Key Recommendations

  • The Higher Education Services Corporation should recover $581,315 plus applicable interest, from Metropolitan.
  • The State Education Department and the Higher Education Services Corporation should work with school officials to help ensure future compliance with the eligibility requirements cited in the report.  

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Tuition Assistance Program: Stony Brook University (2015-T-2)
Tuition Assistance Program: Barnard College (2015-T-1)
Tuition Assistance Program: DeVry College of New York (2014-T-2)


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Frank Patone
Phone: (212) 417-5200; 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