November 22, 2013
Public outcry continues at Fairfield County Council meetings and much has been directed at County Councilman Mikel Trapp’s missed meetings and the payments he received from the county for his college tuition.
After a Freedom of Information Act request to Fairfield County, staff at The Herald Independent learned Trapp was reimbursed for student loans as well as payments he personally made for tuition. College students must repay Stafford student loans, both subsidized and unsubsidized, upon graduation.
According to documents provided by Fairfield County:
— In December 2011, $5,850 was paid to Trapp by county check for unsubsidized and subsidized Stafford loans.
— In the Summer of 2012, Trapp requested repayment of $4,650 for loans relating to summer school via a county check payable to Mikel Trapp.
— In July 2012, the county paid Trapp $5,750 for subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loans, loans that covered Trapp’s tuition and technology fees for the fall 2012 semester.
The checks were made out to Mikel Trapp, not Columbia College or the Federal Student Loan program. Trapp could have used the money to immediately pay off his student loans or he could pocket the money until his loans come due upon graduation from Columbia College.
In the second scenario, Trapp essentially received a free loan on the backs of county taxpayers.
So why arrange for a $100 per pay period repayment of the tuition payments, as Trapp claims he has done? If Trapp still had the reimbursement for the loan, he could have written lump sum checks to the county immediately.
Concerned citizens have mentioned in council meetings that they have reported this matter to the S.C. Ethics Commission for review. When contacted by The Herald Independent, the State Ethics Commission would neither confirm nor deny that it is investigating.
Tuition repayment? Loan? Or both?
Perhaps Mikel Trapp will enlighten his constituents and the taxpayers about the way these reimbursement funds have been used in recent years.