More Former Charlotte Law Students Will Be Eligible for Loan Forgiveness

Nearly 300 former students of the now defunct Charlotte School of Law will be eligible for a discharge of their federal student loans.

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced last week that a loan relief policy, known as a “closed-school discharge,” would apply to any student who was enrolled at Charlotte Law on or after Dec. 31, 2016.

Federal regulations state that students who withdraw from a college or university within 120 days before its closing can petition to have their federal student loans discharged. This window of time can be extended if the education secretary finds that extraordinary circumstances are involved.

The Department originally designated April 12, 2017 as the earliest date students could have withdrawn from Charlotte Law. By November 2017, just 79 Charlotte Law students had applied for loan forgiveness. DeVos’s decision to extend the 120-day window to 224 days added about a dozen new students to the loan waiver list, the Charlotte Observer reported.

“My focus is and will continue to be on doing what’s right for individual students,” said DeVos in a statement. “Several students, through no fault of their own, fell through the cracks as Charlotte School of Law closed. It’s important that they, too, are made whole.”

Kyle McEntee, the executive director and co-founder of Law School Transparency, told Inside Higher Ed expanding eligibility for loan discharge was unexpected but the right decision by the department.

“This signals to other for-profit institutions that the ED will not necessarily let them wiggle out of accountability by stringing students along,” he said.

Charlotte Law was a member of the for-profit consortium owned by Inflaw, Inc. The law school received close $50 million from federal loans in 2015-2016, the Charlotte Observer reported.

The school fell on hard times after the Department of Education and the American Bar Association found that it was out of compliance in regards to its curriculum, admissions standards and bar exam results. The law school lost access to the federal student loan program at the end of 2016 and closed last summer.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, who is conducting a consumer investigation of the failed school, had called on DeVos to extend relief to as many Charlotte Law students as possible.

“These students, through no fault of their own, were left with staggering debt and few options when their school abruptly closed last year,” Stein said in a statement. “A closed-school discharge represents a real chance for those students to make a fresh start.”


Related articles:

Charlotte Law forced to close

Lawsuits against Charlotte Law consolidated


Tyler Roberts is an editor for The National Jurist. You can follow him on Twitter at @wtylerroberts