JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Charlotte School of Law in North Carolina recently was denied federal student-loan funding, which is affecting its current and prospective students — with some of the students having been encouraged to transfer to a sister school in Florida, according to a law-school transparency official.
According to a report on Above the Law, the Charlotte School of Law recently was denied federal funding by the Department of Education, which means students currently enrolled will not receive any monetary assistance from the federal government. This includes any current student loans. According to a report on www.wsoctv.com, the school's federal funding was pulled after it was found to not be in compliance with American Bar Association standards.
“Today’s action denies CSL’s request to be recertified to continue its participation in the federal student-aid programs. Effective Dec. 31, 2016, CSL’s participation in those programs will end, and beginning Jan. 1, 2017, students may no longer use federal student aid to attend the school,” the Department of Education said in a Dec. 19, 2016 news release.
Classes started at the school on Jan. 23, according to a story by the Charlotte Observer, despite the school having laid off approximately two-thirds of its faculty members and having students and classes offered reduced.
“It’s not clear what is actually happening. It’s a complete lack of information,” Kyle McEntee, executive director with Law School Transparency, told the Florida Record.
McEntee said that since Charlotte is not taking any new students who pay with student loans, the college is encouraging them to seek education at Florida Coastal School of Law, its sister school in Jacksonville.
“Florida Coastal was cited as a location to basically send the students who would not be graduating this May,” McEntee said.
He said that the dean of Florida Coastal sent out a letter saying “they are not interested” in acquiring these transfer students.
“Both schools are owned by the same company, so the director might say Florida has to take students,” he said.
This all happened after an October meeting where the Charlotte School of Law “got put on probation and right after that the Department of Education withdrew the school's Title IV funds,” McEntee said.
In addition to Charlotte transferring students, there is also a class-action lawsuit from the students and graduates fighting against Charlotte Law and Infinilaw, the company that owns the college and Florida Coastal, according to the company's website.
“Infinilaw has three law schools and is owned by Sterling Partners, a private-equity firm in Chicago. The students are suing the parties involved for misrepresentation related to the failure to disclose certain things,” McEntee said. “Failure to disclose that the school was not going to be fully credited and they knew better.”
The Department of Education noted on its website many actions it took prior to taking away federal assistance.
“The ABA first informed CSL of its non-compliance in February 2016, and did so again in July 2016,” Ted Mitchell, U.S. undersecretary of education, said on the website. “On both occasions, the school failed to disclose this finding to current and prospective students, despite its admission that the information would have a profound impact on their enrollment decisions.”
McEntee said the students and graduates are upset because of the lack of information given to them. “As a result of the lack of transparency, they relied on what info they did know and chose to be enrolled,” he said.
However, Florida Coastal is dealing with its own problems with student-loan access.
The Florida-Times Union reported on Jan. 26 that the school had failed a Department of Education report that measures the debt-to-income ratios of the college's graduates. Another failure next year could hurt the school's ability to get access to the federal student-loan program. The school is appealing the results.