Tuesday, February 7, 2017

New York Times on Charlotte Law School

For-Profit Law School Faces Crisis After Losing Federal Loans.


"The for-profit school, with hundreds of students, remains in business, even without the lifeline of federal student aid. It is counting on the Education Department under the Trump administration to reopen the loan spigot that the agency turned off last month after the American Bar Association, the law school accreditor, found that the school did not satisfy its admissions and curriculum standards."

"Charlotte Law’s struggles and its dispute with the government highlight the questions being raised over for-profit law schools and the sky-high amounts that students are borrowing for their education. Law school debt alone, when counting interest, has risen to about $175,000 per student, said J. Jerome Hartzell, a lawyer in Raleigh, N.C., who has studied the debt issue.

'It would require an income of over $122,000 to be able to afford just the interest on a student loan of that size,” Mr. Hartzell said. “Most North Carolina lawyers don’t earn that much.'"

"Critics of Charlotte Law say it has enticed unqualified students. Many graduates, they say, have racked up considerable debt but failed to find higher-paying legal jobs. According to A.B.A. data, only 26.3 percent of recent Charlotte Law graduates had full-time jobs that required passage of the state bar and another 10 percent were in jobs where a law degree was preferred."

"Some of those schools, like Charlotte Law, promote themselves as providing opportunities for students who might not be able to attend law school elsewhere. Charlotte Law says it has offset lower admissions scores with preparatory classes, a second 'fresh start' if there is a first-time failure to pass classes and intensive bar preparation. Its first-year attrition rate is 49 percent, according to A.B.A. data."

"Mr. Ogene said the school was seeking to reverse the aid cutoff decision so it could receive payment for the second semester of tuition for students who qualified for federal student loans, and had a disbursement last fall. The Education Department declined to comment."

"Any new arrangement would have to battle Charlotte Law’s recent poor record of bar success. In July only 45.2 percent of its graduates passed the North Carolina bar, which is necessary to practice as a lawyer in the state. In an expletive-laced recording, aired last month by the National Public Radio station WFAE, in Charlotte, a Charlotte Law official said that its July 2015 bar pass rate would have been in the low 20-percent range if the school had not convinced struggling students to defer taking the exam."

(Scott Fruehwald)


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