MUSCLE SHOALS, ALA. — A three-year financial aid audit prompted by self-reported errors in previous financial aid awards at Northwest Shoals Community College (NWSCC) has successfully concluded with an agreement reached between the college and the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). 

“This agreement marks the end of a difficult chapter for Northwest-Shoals, and I’m proud of the work our staff has done to bring this issue to a close,” said Dr. Glenda Colagross, president of NWSCC. “With both student enrollment and graduation rates increasing this year, the Shoals community can rest assured that their community college is on the right track.”

NWSCC and the DOE have agreed to the college’s repayment of $1,077,494 in final liability, with the college given the right to seek recovery of erroneously refunded monies in a separate DOE process. The agreement is a result of an audit launched to identify students receiving Title IV financial aid funds in which they were not entitled in Fiscal Years 2014-2015, 2015-2016, and 2016-2017.

The college has maintained reserve funds sufficient for the repayment, which was remitted to DOE on May 1, 2019.

NWSCC’s financial exposure from operational inexperience and various administrative software miscalculations could have resulted in even greater chargebacks. However, the college’s implementation of new processes and procedures, as well as new experienced hires, have strengthened the financial aid program, and the college has met the federal standards related to a financially-sound institution.

“Dr. Colagross has exhibited incredible leadership, and I’m confident the best is yet to come at Northwest-Shoals,” said Jimmy H. Baker, ACCS Chancellor. “As the ACCS continues to become a more cohesive System, the implementation of consistent policies, procedures, and standards at each ACCS college will provide important safeguards to prevent these types of situations moving forward.”