Audit raises questions about Atlanta Metro's finances

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Warren Green the Fourth plans to earn a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Atlanta Metropolitan State College in December. The 25-year-old Decatur student said the tuition and smaller class sizes made all the difference on his path to academic success. Students can earn an associate’s degree for $8,000 a year or a bachelor’s degree for $16,000. Fewer than 3,000 students are enrolled in the Southwest Atlanta institution on Metropolitan Boulevard.

“I love Atlanta Metro. Atlanta metro gave me a second chance at a higher education. Since there aren't a lot of students, everything is more hands on with your professors, so you get more one on one with your professors,” Green told FOX 5’s Portia Bruner

WATCH: What an audit on Atlanta Metropolitan State College means to its students

Atlanta Metro President Gary McGaha is proud of the school's 42-year record of offering more affordable college degrees to Atlanta residents. But he’s no proud of audit recently released by the State Department of Audits and Accounting. In it, auditors concluded college officials should be doing a much better job accounting for millions of dollars -- including funds for the HOPE Scholarship, Food Services Department, building additions and the new Student Center. State auditors say there's even the potential for “a misappropriation of assets and a misrepresentation of the institution's financial position.” Dr. McGaha said it’s been a tough year—fiscally speaking. He said six out of the nine members of the Fiscal Affairs Department left over the last 15 months to accept higher paying jobs.

“There were absolutely no dollars missing and no funds taken at all. But we did have some people who literally made some mistakes. Now that's not an excuse because we should have gotten this corrected. But we are now and we will in the future,” said McGaha who’s been president for 10 years.

McGaha said he's changed leadership and replaced the Vice President and Associate Vice President of Fiscal Affairs last week. He said the school is following several long-term recommendations auditors made at the end of February.

“I just don't want this to be perceived as something that is consistent with the behavior of this institution, because it is not. We have a strong history of providing quality education and we are, in that tradition, going to aggressively attack this problem.” Dr. McGaha said.

Green, who plans to graduate in December, is confident the school will turn things around for the students who want a shot at a more affordable college degree.

“I believe they can get everything together to get everything back on track at Atlanta Metro and I hope one day they are able to expand. They’re giving a lot of people a chance at a higher level of education,” Green said.

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