I-Team: CSN Financial Aid Mistake Frustrates Students

LAS VEGAS -- A costly math error ended up shortchanging some local college students and will result in the College of Southern Nevada having to pay for that mistake.

It's not clear how much the error will cost the financially struggling college. CSN is currently in the middle of an audit. The results will be released within two weeks. The audit is expected to reveal some students were underpaid and some students were overpaid in financial aid.

Faces of frustration best describes the look of students who were in the financial aid line Wednesday. 

Denise Haskins has just started taking classes for her counseling degree -- or so she thought. 

"If they can't straighten out the financial aid, I'm going to have to drop the classes," she said.

As some of the students were still signing up for classes, the college admitted it got the math wrong on financial aid in past years. The audit uncovered some students in the 2011 - 2012 school year were not given the financial aid they deserved and some students were given too much aid. The college must now pay that money back to the federal government.

Santos Martinez was the CSN vice president handling financial aid until he resigned just before the college admitted its mistake. The I-Team sat down with college president Michael Richards who was asked whether anyone would be disciplined over the issue.

"I'm not going to go into personnel actions that may occur from this. I'm more interested in the functionality of student financial assistance office to make sure it is accurate, it's efficient, and it's meeting the needs of students," Richards said.

The college hopes repeated audits will stamp out any future financial aid mistakes. Haskins learned from financial aid that she's receiving little more than half the Pell grant money she was expecting. She said she is left with the choice of dropping a class or taking out a loan.

Richards said every student is now receiving the correct amount of financial aid. This error brings to light the student frustrations coming from dealing with a financial aid department still working to correct its mistake.

"This was the first time somebody even explained any of that information since I've been coming and I've been here seven times," Haskins said.

CSN owes the federal Department of Education for overpaying some financial aid to students. CSN plans on taking the money out of its reserves.


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