Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Charlotte Law Students Twist in the Wind

cao and diplomaThe embattled students at Charlotte School of Law continue to twist in the wind as the school waffles on rescue plans.

In mid-January, the school announced on its website that it was working with the U.S. Department of Education on a teach-out plan. The action was mandated by the ABA.

Under the proposal, students would have been allowed to attend Florida Coastal School of Law, which like CSL is owned by Infilaw. They would also be offered refunds, discharges and other relief from their education loans.

But one day after announcing the teach-out, the school reversed course and said it was rejecting that option, once again plunging its students into a swamp of uncertainty.

A teach-out, according to the DOE is “a written course of action a school that is closing will take to ensure its students are treated fairly with regard to finishing their programs of study.”

Law School On The Ropes

The school has been running on fumes since the ABA announced in February 2016 – and again in July 2016 – that it was not in compliance with accreditation standards. The school appealed, but the determination was upheld in October 2016. Subsequently, the school was placed on ABA probation.

In December, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) announcing it was cutting off student loan funding, saying the school had made “substantial misrepresentations” to current and prospective students regarding its ABA accreditation status.

Assuming that the school continues to operate without federal loan money – and with no teach-out plan in place - students may not be eligible for federal loan discharge.

An estimated 700 students attend the school, according to the Charlotte Observer. Annual tuition is $42,320 for full-time students and $33,858 for those in the part-time program, according to the school’s website.

As the controversy swirled, students told the press that class schedules were uncertain and that rumors about the school’s future were running rampant.

Students Should Weigh Options

One education law expert from North Carolina told the ABA Journal that students be careful before accepting any teach-out offer.

“Students should be entirely clear on their options and ask as many questions as they need to fully weigh a difficult decision,” said Heather Jarvis. “And consideration of whether to accept a teach-out plan should be informed by where you are in your law school curriculum.”

Jarvis said law students who transfer credits to a new school may not qualify for a federal loan discharge. If they start over as a 1L somewhere else, on the other hand, they likely would be eligible for a discharge of prior law school loans.

But she cautions that much of this is new territory, and some of the questions involving loan discharge could be matters of first impression.

You can access a FAQ paper prepared by the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar in December 2016 here.


Charlotte School of Law

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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