Charlotte School of Law students are wrapping up their second week back to classes after the Department of Education yanked all federal loans to the school. The school has refused to close and that decision means students can't have their debt forgiven. WFAE's Lisa Worf joins All Things Considered host Mark Rumsey now:
RUMSEY: How many students actually returned to Charlotte School of Law?
WORF: The school's spokeswoman says enrollment is now about 268. That's about a third of what it was back in the fall before its accreditor, the American Bar Association, put the school on probation for problems including a low bar passage rate and admitting unqualified students.
RUMSEY: So what happened to those students who didn't come back this semester?
WORF: They're trying to figure out their options. Many of these students are at or near six figure debt. If the school does close, they may not have a degree, but at least they'd get their debt forgiven. That is unless they transfer their credits to another law school. Some hope to do that, even though that could mean losing a lot of credits.
RUMSEY: And those who are returning, how are they paying for school?
WORF: Well, that's the big question mark. School leaders are still hoping those federal loans come through with a new administration. If they don't, the school says it will offer students loans to cover the tuition, which they plan to discount 20 percent to about $36,000 before any scholarships kick in. The school already offered students a $1,000 loan to help plug the gap.
RUMSEY: How does this sit with students?
WORF: Not well. There's a lot of grumbling. This week, Jeremy Snyder, a second year student wrote two sharply-worded emails to the school's president, dean, and the CEO of InfiLaw. That's the for-profit company that operates Charlotte School of Law. He told them he wasn't satisfied with the information and options the school was offering and said students weren't able to pay rent, schoolbooks, or even cover bare necessities like food. He called it B.S. or, rather, the unabbreviated form of that word. In response, the school issued him an honor code violation warning and said the emails were not only "unprofessional, but obscene in nature" and also called him out for his social media posts.
SNYDER: In terms of being obscene, everything they had been doing for the last month much more closely matched the definition of obscene, whereas the definition for bulls**** seemed absolutely appropriate.
WORF: He also noted the irony of the violation coming a week after a recording of an assistant dean came out who used much harsher language in talking to faculty and referring to students.