US comptroller talks money at NIU

Eugene Dodaro, comptroller general of the United States, speaks about the country's financial state before a presentation for accountancy students at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Barsema Auditorium."We've been doing a lot of work looking at the student loan programs, and we're particularly concerned with the amount of debt students are having," Dodaro said.

Sam Malone

DeKALB | Eugene Dodaro, comptroller general of the United States, spoke Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Barsema Hall about the country’s financial state and how it affects college students.

The comptroller of the U.S. serves a 15-year term as the head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, often referred to as the U.S. congressional watchdog. It is his or her job to hold the federal government accountable for any unconstitutional actions it may be involved in and improve its overall spending efficiency.

With the country’s financial deficit, predicted to be $616 billion for Fiscal Year 2016, Dodaro said many higher education institutions are suffering.

NIU receives about 26 percent of its budget from state appropriations. It has been two years since NIU received a full allocation from the state, the last full budget being given in FY15 for $91.1 million. This was cut to about $74 million for FY17, according to a July 11 Northern Star article.

His office is working to combat related issues such as the amount of debt students will graduate with.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work looking at the student loan programs, and we’re particularly concerned with the amount of debt students are having,” Dodaro said. “We’ve looked at whether or not the education departments are effectively communicating to students their options about financing. Right now, we’re looking at the accreditation process for higher education institutions and whether or not that can be improved.”

The office that Dodaro leads is a part of the U.S. Legislative Branch, and it is the office’s job to support Congress in its constitutional responsibilities.

Dodaro said one way his office attempts to make the government more efficient is by eliminating duplicate and overlapping programs. He said there are many programs that do the same thing, and by eliminating duplicates, the government is able to save an incredible amount of money.

“Our scope is anything that our government is involved in,” Dodaro said. “We issue about 700 reports a year, and last year, as a result of our recommendations being implemented, the benefits were over $60 billion.”

Dodaro and his office advise ways the government can begin to cut back the national deficit. With the presidential election approaching, Dodaro said there will be a big transition. His office will be responsible for making sure the transition goes smoothly and that beneficial programs continue.

Dodaro said it is important that students vote and begin to have an understanding of financial literacy and the way the finances of the U.S. are handled.

“First of all, I encourage anybody who’s eligible to vote, because students as well as other generations have a lot at stake,” Dodaro said. “But the most important thing I think for young professionals now is to be educated on financial literacy, [because] students need to save money and make themselves more aware of life decisions they’re going to have to make.”