An audit of Nassau Community College in New York has revealed a number of financial and operational inefficiencies, including a failure to collect $14 million in tuition and fees since the 2006-07 academic year, according to Nassau County comptroller George Maragos.
NCC's Acting President Dr. Kenneth Saunders said the college agrees with the audit and notes that through "specific and sustained actions" $4.3 million of previously uncollected tuition and fees has been recovered. He added that a large percentage of NCC's uncollected tuition and fees is a result of the college offering a three-payment deferred tuition payment plan to students who otherwise can't afford full payments and do not qualify for full financial aid.
The audit also found that "inadequate billing and collection practices" between 2006 and August 2011 resulted in a depletion of the college's reserves to "dangerously low levels" as well as a 2013 tuition hike, said Maragos. He added that the problems persisted for too long and, if allowed to continue, could threaten the mission of the college and cause large tuition increases in the future.
"[NCC] underwent a substantial restructuring of the processes within the Financial Aid Office in 2010 which has helped to minimize situations that, in the past, had resulted in collection problems," Dr. Saunders added.
The average tuition increase between 2006 and 2011 was $118 or $59 per semester, an average of 3.5 percent, according to college officials, still lower than the average increase for community colleges in the state (3.6 percent) during that time.
Maragos added that although improvements have been made since the audit, additional changes still need to be made, including reducing staffing ratios and administrative expenses.
The audit found NCC's staffing levels, administrative expenses and total operating costs "out of line" with comparable regional colleges like Suffolk Community College, Monroe Community College and Westchester Community College. During the 2010/2011 academic year, NCC's staffing levels were 38 percent higher than levels at SCCC.