State financial board gives SC State extension on loan

Published: Jun. 16, 2015 at 5:55 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 26, 2015 at 5:55 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS/AP) - A state financial board has given South Carolina State University a five-year reprieve from repaying a $6 million loan.

The Budget and Control Board voted unanimously Tuesday to let the financially troubled school pay the money back by 2020. South Carolina's only public historically black university was supposed to pay it back by June 30 but can't. The school's debt exceeds $20 million.

A state audit painted a grim picture of how South Carolina State got into its financial situation. Investigators with Elliot Davis, the firm contracted to audit the school, found from a sample of 2,000 financial transactions between the school and vendors, only about 10% were properly documented.

They also found the school's financial staff wasn't trained to properly run its bookkeeping system.

But, Governor Haley and others said the school is now heading in the right direction with its interim board and the audit pinpoints where the board should focus its efforts.

"Now, with this new analysis that we've pushed for, with these new procedures in place, taxpayers can know any money that goes to South Carolina State can be accounted for properly," Governor Haley said.

Another big issue facing the school, which Elliot Davis highlighted, is that countless students went through the institution without ever paying tuition. The group recommended requiring tuition payments up front before students could register and using debt collection to get that money from alumni.

The loan extension comes days after an accrediting board kept S.C. State's accreditation on probation for another year, as a newly appointed board tries to bring it to fiscal solvency.

The new trustees are set to meet Wednesday. It will be their third meeting since the Legislature passed a bill last month firing the former trustees and replacing them with a temporary fix-it board appointed by lawmakers.

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