River Parishes Community College students caught a break last year when school administrators miscalculated a tuition increase and ended up charging students less money than they should have.
The foul-up cost the Sorrento school $102,540 in tuition revenue, according to a report from Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s office.
In June 2012, the Louisiana Community and Technical College System board approved a 10 percent tuition increase on all of its campuses across the state.
Tuition hikes are allowed through the 2010 LA GRAD Act, which lets colleges raise tuition up to 10 percent each year if they meet certain performance goals including improved graduation and retention rates.
The problem occurred when administrators at River Parishes Community College incorrectly calculated the 10 percent increase, resulting in the school undercharging students by $2 per credit hour, the audit report says.
On Monday, LCTCS Director of Budget and Planning Joe Marin said the campus is completely at fault and there would be no attempt to retroactively charge students the tuition they should have been assessed.
“The students paid on good faith,” Marin said.
“It’s an unfortunate thing, but they are not the ones to blame. This is the fault of the campus.”
Marin chalked up the situation on a mixture of timing and staff turnover.
RPCC’s chief financial officer at the time had just resigned at about the same time the state’s fiscal year was ending, Marin said.
That time between late June and early July is when state colleges and universities typically authorize tuition increases.
Marin said RPCC was caught in an awkward situation where it had an interim CFO “trying to close out the fiscal year,” while actively searching for a permanent CFO.
A new CFO brought in was not familiar with the system’s practices leading to the mishap, he said.
“The new CFO did not realize the tuition increase included mandatory fees” when calculating the 10 percent, Marin said.
“Of all the times, this was the worst time you could’ve had a changeover at the CFO position.”
In response to the audit report, RPCC Executive Vice Chancellor Bill Martin wrote a letter saying the school will do a better job briefing employees on procedures and will double check any future tuition adjustments entered into the RPCC computer system.