Skip to content
Late audit puts IHL in heightened...

Late audit puts IHL in heightened federal monitoring

By: Jeremy Pittari - October 2, 2023

All eight Mississippi universities will be affected for five years if an appeal is unsuccessful.

The United States Department of Education has issued a letter to Governor Tate Reeves stating that the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) is now under federal monitoring after an audit report was submitted late.

Kim Gallaspy, IHL’s assistant commissioner for government relations, said the reason the audit was late was because of inaccuracies that were found late in the auditing process.  

“During the audit of our institutions by our external auditor, Clifton Larson Allen, it was discovered that some institutions had inaccurately classified federal program funds. As a result, programs which should have been classified as major programs were not identified until late in the audit cycle,” said Gallaspy in an emailed statement. “Consequently, our auditor was required to perform additional audit procedures on these newly identified major programs. This additional audit work caused our audit report to be delayed past the Department of Education’s deadline. To be clear, although the funds were misclassified there were no findings from our auditor which indicate that federal funds were inappropriately spent.”

Clarification about which institutions were not classified correctly was not included in her statement.

However, according to the letter to the Governor, all eight state universities will be affected: Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi University for Women, Mississippi State University, Mississippi Valley State University, University of Mississippi, and University of Southern Mississippi.

The letter also states that the IHL has been placed on a heightened cash monitoring payment method for five years. 

Gallaspy said that “there will be no impact on the disbursement of financial aid. The Heightened Cash Monitoring 1 process requires funds to be placed on student accounts before they can be drawn down from the federal government. Some of our institutions process the funds in this manner already as a regular business practice. The others will be able to implement the process without difficulty.”

State Rep. Stacey Hobgood-Wilkes (R-HD 108) is a member of the House Universities and Colleges Committee. She told Magnolia Tribune she was tremendously disappointed the deadlines were missed.

“I have just been made aware of the IHL’s new status under the U. S. Department of Education. I am tremendously disappointed that these deadlines were missed. It is unacceptable that something this important did not warrant high priority status,” Rep. Hobgood-Wilkes. “These federal dollars, like PELL Grants and student loans, are too important to our Mississippi students for the IHL to be this irresponsible. They deserve to be held accountable for their lack of action.”

The audit in question was due on March 31 of this year but was not received until June 14th. 

“This letter advises you that this untimely audit submission constitutes a failure of financial responsibility under the Department’s regulations,” the letter states.

There is an option to appeal the decision, which Gallaspy said is in the works.

“The system office and the institutions are working to appeal the decision. We have also required written corrective action plans to be submitted,” Gallaspy said. “These corrective action plans will be tested for effectiveness by the Board’s Office of Internal Audit. Ineffective corrective actions will warrant further corrective measures by the Board.” 

Governor Reeves’ office did not respond to requests for comment on this matter as of press time.


Editor’s Note: The original version of this article stated that six universities would be impacted by the late audit. However, all eight Mississippi universities will be affected.

It also stated that it would “lead to the restriction of in the issuance of federal funding that provides financial aid to students and could hamper academic program creation.” Gallaspy clarified that there would be no impact to financial aid disbursements.

About the Author(s)
author profile image

Jeremy Pittari

Jeremy Pittari is a lifelong resident of the Gulf Coast. Born and raised in Slidell, La., he moved to South Mississippi in the early 90s. Jeremy earned an associate in arts from Pearl River Community College and went on to attend the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned a bachelor's of arts in journalism. A week after Hurricane Katrina, he started an internship as a reporter with the community newspaper in Pearl River County. After graduation, he accepted a full-time position at that news outlet where he covered the recovery process post Katrina in Pearl River and Hancock Counties. For nearly 17 years he wrote about local government, education, law enforcement, crime, business and a variety of other topics.