Small college closes in the wake of 'financial tsunami'

Leaders say there were no issues before 2014

Miller College in Michigan will close in June after auditors uncovered mistakes in the college's finances worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, the board chair announced Tuesday, Safiya Merchant reports for the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Board Chair Paul Ohm says the auditors have not yet told him how the mistakes occurred. So far, he knows that expenses were not completely documented and hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial aid was incorrectly disbursed to students. Some students got more than they requested, some less, and some may have gotten aid who weren't supposed to, Ohm explains.

Ohm, who is also the college's former president, estimates the foundation will need to procure $1.5 million to keep the college open until June.

"They're broke," he tells the Enquirer. "Broke."

Keeping the school open beyond June would require $5 million to $7 million, Ohm projects, which he says would simply be impossible.

College leaders are offering students within one year of graduation a "teach out" partnership with Western Michigan University. For students with more credits left to complete, administrators will provide advising and transfer assistance.

Ohm says there are no signs of financial trouble at the institution prior to 2014.

"This is a financial tsunami that washed over this institution in the time period July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015," he tells the Enquirer. "Every other year in the past had no significant audit issues."

White paper: Increasing efficiency in financial aid offices

Ohm is currently waiting for the results of two audits into the 2014-2015 school year.

After the financial issues were discovered, several senior leaders of the school resigned. In October, the president and chief financial officer who served during the year in question both resigned. In November, the board of trustees at the time eliminated five administrative positions. More recently, the entire previous board of trustees vacated their positions (Merchant, Battle Creek Enquirer, 12/8).

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