An external review conducted at Scripps College in response to misreporting
of loan debt discovered earlier this year confirmed that the college had failed to include all types of student loans in the calculation of cumulative averages of graduating students’ debt, which resulted in under-reporting statistics to the Common Data Set (CDS). This information was relayed to the Scripps community in a letter delivered via e-mail from Linda Davis Taylor, Chair of the Scripps Board of Trustees, on Oct. 29.
Scripps community was initially informed of the misreporting in an e-mail from President
Lori Bettison-Varga on June 28. According to Bettison-Varga’s
email, the college had been misreporting average cumulative loan debt for
approximately 10 years. Bettison-Varga also wrote that there would be an
external review conducted by law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP and accounting
firm Grant Thornton LLP.
Davis Taylor’s letter outlined the findings of the external review.
the review found that while the College has always reported cumulative averages
of subsidized Federal loan debt, which are loans used to meet a student’s demonstrated need, elective debt (or non-need-based
debt) had not been incorporated into this third-party reporting,” she wrote.
Non-need-based loans include unsubsidized federal loans, outside private loans and interest-free institutional loans that Scripps offers to students who are
California residents, Davis Taylor wrote.
“The misreporting of average
cumulative debt statistics to the CDS involved a failure to report properly the aggregate student loan statistics to
the CDS,” she added.
Marylou Ferry, Vice President for Communications and Marketing at Scripps, said that the misreporting was due to faults in the institution’s process of reporting data to the CDS.
understanding is that if we had had a more systematic process in place it would
have been more likely that misreporting would have been highlighted before,” she said.
Ferry added that “more rigorous controls have been put in place for managing and look at data.”
to Davis Taylor’s letter, Grant Thornton recalculated Scripps’s averages back
to 2004, finding that in excluding non-need-based loan debt, the college had
underreported cumulative statistics.
example, the College reported to the CDS an average cumulative debt for 2011
graduates of $13,121. Grant Thornton’s recalculation, including all forms of
elective student debt, found that the 2011 graduating class had an average
cumulative debt of $22,466,” she wrote.
Additionally, Davis Taylor wrote that the
review found that “President Bettison-Varga did not direct or encourage” the
one’s individual aid package was affected,” Ferry said.