An Illinois state audit reveals widespread and continuing financial problems at Chicago State University.

Chicago State is the college in Illinois that Ben Miller and Phuong Ly profiled in their Monthly article last year, “College Dropout Factories.” Chicago State has six-year graduation rate of just 13 percent.

According to an article about the audit by Jodi Cohen in the Chicago Tribune:

The scathing audit portrays the 7,000-student university as a financial mess, with federal grants misspent, lax control over contracts and misuse of purchasing cards. The review revealed 41 problems, up from 13 the prior year.

The problems ranged from paying vendors above contracted amounts to allowing an elementary education student to graduate despite not completing a course in teaching physical education, a state requirement.

Apparently there was a period last spring where the college forgot to send bills to students but then let the students register for classes anyway.

Chicago State did not dispute any of the findings, though Vice President for Administration and Finance Glenn Meeks (the university’s third since July, 2009) assured the public that his school was improving and that next year’s audit would reveal progress.

“[The 2012 audit] will be the greatest test of changes,” he said. “Many of the findings that surfaced in the 2010 audit will go away. They will disappear. “

Well something will disappear. Either the problems or just more students. Things like this, financial mismanagement, confusion, and inappropriate oversight, are rooted in administrative incompetence.

There’s a lot of taxpayer money that goes into Chicago State. Mismanagement of that money is a problem for taxpayers and for the university’s reputation. The end result of all of this, however, is that students just don’t graduate. That’s the problem. “Paying vendors above contracted amounts” is just icing on the cake. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer