Local News

SBI Investigates ECU's Financial Aid Department For Money Misuse

Posted May 28, 2005 9:44 a.m. EDT

— The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is investigating misuse of student funding at East Carolina University's Financial Aid Department.

ECU spokesman John Durham said the investigation started last November when the university called the SBI to investigate.

"Anytime there is a report of misuse of funds, we take that very seriously and we try to get to the bottom of it," Durham said.

Durham said he could not yet answer any questions about how the university was tipped off, how the money was possibly misused, or how much money was involved. He did say, however, that no one has been criminally charged and that no one has lost their job.

"We hope to have answers as soon as possible," Durham said.

Grants, loans and scholarships fall under the umbrella of financial aid. Last year alone, ECU divided nearly $129 million among more than half of its students.

Students who WRAL talked with were unaware of the investigation, but one expressed concern that the SBI investigation could add to recent controversies.

In 2003 Chancellor William Muse abruptly stepped down, citing health reasons. His resignation, however, came on the heels of two very critical internal audits concerning questionable spending.

One student, B. J. Howard, did comment that any truth to problems in the Financial Aid Department could further tarnish the school's reputation.

"It's kind of concerning -- misusing funds that should be going toward students," Howard said.

Durham, however, said no student was wrongly denied financial aid and that the department does not have a history of problems.

It is unclear how much the school's Board of Trustees knows about the investigation. One board member told WRAL he did not know anything about the investigation.