Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

W.VA. BUSINESS COLLEGE ; HEPC: School Misused Grant; Higher Education Policy Commission May Order Return of $68,400

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

W.VA. BUSINESS COLLEGE ; HEPC: School Misused Grant; Higher Education Policy Commission May Order Return of $68,400

Article excerpt

Last summer, state officials found about $70,000 worth of "discrepancies in a private college's use of a state-funded grant meant to help low-income students. Staff members of the Higher Education Policy Commission conducted an audit of the money West Virginia Business College received through the Higher Education Grant Program, according to the agenda for an upcoming commission meeting. The audit found that 22 of 45 students who received the grant money from the 2012-15 academic years were not actually eligible for the award, and that the state had given the school grant money for an additional 53 students - but those students never saw the money.

The HEPC says the school should return $68,400 to the state.

This isn't the first time the business college has come under fire for its distribution of the grant. In 2012, another audit found "several deficiencies, according to the agenda documents. State officials visited the campus and helped train WVBC staff on how to administer the grant. The school operates in Wheeling and Nutter Fort.

HEPC spokeswoman Jessica Kennedy said she couldn't provide copies of the 2012 or 2016 audits on Thursday because they contain students' private financial information. Kennedy also said that no HEPC representative could comment on the audits until a Feb. 3 meeting in Charleston.

In order for colleges to be legally allowed to grant a degree in West Virginia, they need to be authorized by either the HEPC, which oversees four-year colleges, or the Community and Technical College System, which oversees two-year colleges.

Members of the committee that helps decide whether to reauthorize colleges are "unwilling to recommend continued authorization of WVBC, according to an information item found on the agenda. The committee referenced the distribution of the grant and the school's accreditation woes as the reasons for reaching that decision.

The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools is WVBC's accreditor and in December denied the school's re- accreditation. In a 12-page letter to the school, the ACICS said that it found "substantive noncompliance with its requirements for accreditation, including that some instructors were not qualified to teach classes and that students feared the school was "stealing money from them.

In denying the school's re-accreditation, the accrediting council ordered WVBC to develop a plan for its current students, which could include sending those students to another school. …

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