Higher Education Services Corporation - Tuition Assistance Program


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NYS Comptroller


Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Higher Education Services Corporation - Tuition Assistance Program
Effective Oversight of the Tuition Assistance Program: Schools Can Avoid Disallowances by Ensuring Eligibility

Issued: March 9, 2012
Link to full audit report 2012-D-1

This special report summarizes findings of 17 audits of the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) released between 2007 and 2011, and offers guidance to schools that participate in the program on how to comply with the eligibility rules and avoid mistakes. This report also recommends changes to help strengthen the program, including proposing the formation of a working group to suggest legislative reforms that simplify eligibility.

TAP has helped millions of New Yorkers access college education and postsecondary training. New York State spends about $900 million annually on TAP, which is among the largest state-sponsored entitlement student aid program in the nation, second only to California. Hundreds of schools and colleges around the State benefit from TAP. OSC audits have found that schools need to strengthen their understanding of the laws and regulations that prescribe eligibility for this program, otherwise schools could be asked to repay the State for incorrectly awarding TAP to ineligible students.

Key Findings

  • Schools must improve their oversight and management of TAP or these schools could be subject to disallowances after an audit and be asked to repay the State. More than half of some schools’ tuition revenue comes from TAP, and audit disallowances resulting from eligibility errors can reduce schools’ revenue.
  • Common errors identified in audits include school officials not determining whether students are enrolled in appropriate and sufficient credits to be deemed full-time; not determining whether students are in good academic standing; and not ensuring that students have fulfilled the requirements needed to matriculate.
  • Since 2007, audits have recommended that $10 million in TAP grants be repaid to the State by individual schools.

Key Recommendations

  • Schools should require staff to participate in trainings on TAP eligibility.
  • Schools should consider using software to help students maintain their eligibility during course registration.
  • A TAP working group of schools and State oversight agencies should meet regularly to consider and recommend legislative reforms to simplify eligibility criteria and other actions to strengthen TAP.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Tap audits can be found on the OSC Internet under audits of Higher Education Services Corporation - Tuition Assistance Program


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: John Buyce
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