ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Albany State officials said that they're making progress solving financial problems uncovered by an audit last year.
But WALB has learned those problems were more serious than originally thought.
The university is deep in debt.
School officials said they are following the recommendations set by auditors to get the school's finances back on track, but that will be a long process.
Albany State University leaders said that they're turning things around to prevent past mistakes from happening again.
"We've looked at some systems that we have in place and trying to determine what's best in terms of not duplicating any issues that we may have had in the past," said Special Assistant to the President Wendy Wilson.
A financial aid investigation last year revealed serious misconduct. Auditors think that in the last fiscal year, the Office of Financial Aid gave out $2.5 million dollars to students that they weren't qualified to receive. The university has hired Stephanie Lawrence as their new Financial Aid Director to correct the problem.
"She's recognized on a national level and she's been able to come in continue to go through an audit process if you will and then identify where we may have some problems and then immediately putting in some systems to correct that," explained Wilson.
Workers in the department have gotten more training. The audit also revealed that deficits in the housing, athletic and transportation departments have accumulated over the years and will require several years to resolve.
"Well that's something that we're constantly under review that's the beauty of this consolidation is now you have an opportunity to look at all of your areas," said Wilson.
Students are now helping dig the university out of debt. Housing rents and student athletic fees are continuing to increase. Both departments are working to reduce expenses.
"We're very excited about the corrections that we've made, the modifications that we continue to make in a short period of time and that's just going to continue to be our course," explained Wilson.
University System officials said that they are aware of the audit findings from the last fiscal year and are working with President Art Dunning to resolve the issues.
They said previous mergers have improved efficiency and helped to fix financial problems at other colleges. They expect the same with the Albany State and Darton merger.
When asked about why the consolidation was happening prior to the financial issues being handled, Vice Chancellor for Internal Audit & Compliance/Chief Audit Officer John Fuchko released this statement: