Federal grants and loans help keep the doors open at public and private colleges, but the U.S. Department of Education doesn't have vital information required for monitoring how the money is spent.

A new audit by the Office of the Inspector General for the Education Department reports that the lack of "consistent" and "transparent information" regarding finances is the problem.

"Financial statements submitted by 78 percent of publicly traded schools and an estimated 58 percent of privately held schools did not present the amounts spent on instruction and marketing," the IG said. The report looked at 2010 financial statements from 521 colleges -- 294 of which were publicly traded and 227 owned by privately held companies.

Federal student aid spending increased by 68 percent from 2008 to 2012 to $144 billion, but the money given directly to students has also grown by 79 percent to $29.6 billion.

"Given the level of federal investment in these schools, the department needs financial information that is transparent and consistent across participating schools to adequately monitor" where they money goes, so that taxpayer dollars are "spent in a manner that helps achieve the program results that Congress intended," the IG said.

Go here to view the full report.