A new audit has found that South Carolina education officials are not following up on lottery money to make sure that it is being used correctly for college scholarships or elementary and middle-school education.
The report released Wednesday by the Legislative Audit Council (LAC) examined how revenues from the South Carolina Education Lottery are handled once they are transferred into the state budget. Auditors found a lack of oversight by the two agencies which handle most of the funds, raising the risk that the money could be spent improperly.
The report noted few controls are currently in place to ensure that students receiving more than $222 million in lottery-funded scholarship funds are actually eligible to receive them. Students receiving the Palmetto Fellows, LIFE, HOPE, and other lottery tuition assistance must be U.S. citizens or lawful residents and residents of South Carolina at the time of their graduation from high school. Those students must also maintain a 3.0 GPA while in college to keep their merit-based scholarships.
But the Commission on Higher Education (CHE) has no way to measure if the amounts of scholarships requested by the state’s institutions are accurate, beyond matching the college’s ledger with its student rosters, according to LAC director Perry Simpson.