At the end of 2016, the Department of Education announced they would not grant federal loans to the students of a for-profit law school.
It’s the first accredited law school to lose its access to federal aid. For many students, this is a huge imposition, and it highlights a growing trend regarding for-profit schools.
Below, find out what this development means for current students, and what you should do if you are affected by a similar situation.
ABA puts Charlotte School of Law on probation
The Charlotte School of Law is a small, private, for-profit school in North Carolina. Founded in 2006, the American Bar Association–the leading professional organization in law–accredited the school 2011.
But in 2016, the American Bar Association (ABA) put the university on probation, saying that the school failed to meet their standards in preparing students for a career in law. They directed the school to take a series of steps so it can once again comply with necessary standards.
Department of Education withdraws federal student aid
In December 2016, the Department of Education announced that they would not give federal student aid to students of Charlotte Law School.
In a press release, they cited this move as necessary to protect the welfare of students and taxpayers’ money.
“The ABA repeatedly found that the Charlotte School of Law does not prepare students for participation in the legal profession,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell in a statement. “Yet CSL continuously misrepresented itself to current and prospective students as hitting the mark. CSL’s actions were misleading and dishonest.”
The move was a huge blow to Charlotte Law School. During the 2015-2016 school year, over 900 students were receiving federal aid totaling over $48.5 million.
Students face financial hardships
While the Department of Education’s efforts were intended to help students, it leaves many Charlotte Law School students scrambling to come up with the money to pay for tuition and living expenses.
For students who depend on their federal loans to pay rent, many are facing homelessness since those funds are not available.
Additionally, students have to figure out whether to stay at Charlotte Law School or try to transfer elsewhere. For individuals who have already invested years–and thousands of dollars–it’s a difficult decision. Many have found that their credits will not transfer to other law schools, so they would have to start over.
Several law firms have come forward to offer current students their help in filing legal action against Charlotte Law School. The firms are filing both individual and class-action suits, alleging that the school failed to disclose information to students.
Charlotte Law School provides temporary solutions
Second-year student Jeremy Snyder found out his mother had stage four cancer in the fall, right before classes started. Snyder is juggling caring for his mom while trying to get answers from Charlotte Law School on how to proceed.
“They don’t return phone calls, they don’t return emails, and so they just kept stalling, stalling, and stalling,”‘said Snyder in an interview with WCCB News. “So I emailed and I said guys this is BS. We need some answers. We deserve answers.”
But instead of getting answers, Snyder received an honor code violation for using bad language.
In an email to students, the school outlined some options for students to pay for their spring semester.
For instance, students who now have to pay for school themselves can get a 20 percent tuition discount. Additionally, institutional loans are also available, but they do not cover living expenses.
In January, Charlotte Law School issued some $1,000 emergency loans to students in desperate situations. The for-profit institution is working to try and secure federal funding the future, essential for the school’s survival.
For-profit schools continue to see aid withdrawn
Charlotte Law School is just the latest for-profit school to lose access to federal student aid. According to the Department of Education, more than 40 institutions in the past three years have lost federal aid, including Marinello Schools of Beauty and Medtech College.
For-profit schools have come under intense scrutiny for their recruitment practices, as well as unsatisfactorily preparing students to succeed in careers after graduation.
If you’re a current student of Charlotte Law School, you can check for updates about the school’s status and student loan information on the Department of Education site.
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