LAW SCHOOL FAILS NEW “GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT” TEST …
Efforts to revive flagging fortunes of the Charleston School of Law (CSOL) hit another road block this week when the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) implemented new “gainful employment” regulations that singled the school out for failing to make the grade.
The new standards – aimed at preventing the exploitation of students who borrow more than they will be able to repay for academic loans – were part of a 2010 DOE initiative, although the reforms were not implemented until 2015.
CSOL was one of two for-profit schools in the country to receive a failing grade (the Florida Coastal School of Law was the other). If the institution flunks again next year, it will lose access to the federal student loan program.
According to the DOE data, CSOL’s debt-to-earnings annual rate was 20.42 percent while its debt-to-discretionary-income rate was 31.7 percent.
Not surprisingly, school officials are pushing back hard against the agency’s findings.
“The DOE elected for some unfathomable reason to only apply these new regulations to the five ‘for profit’ law schools and none of the other 200+ law schools in the US,” noted CSOL’s president, Ed Bell, in a letter to students. “Had they done so, a number of these other law schools would have also been included on the DOE list with us. The DOE then calculated their rates, which are clearly erroneous, using flawed and limited data from students who graduated back in 2010-11 and 2011-12.”
Bell also disputed the DOE’s contention that CSOL graduates weren’t able to make enough money to pay back their loans.
“This is definitely not the case with our graduates, who are getting jobs and in many cases, consistent with the pro bono populi motto of our school, elect to go into rewarding, albeit lower-paying, public service jobs,” Bell’s letter added. “I consider those graduates to be evidence of our success, not our failure.”
The latest round of bad news for CSOL comes on the heels of a difficult year for the school’s graduates on the South Carolina bar exam (an anemic 50.9 percent passage rate, according to the latest data).
Three years ago, the school posted an impressive 72.6 percent passage rate on the exam.
Prior to its bar exam flop, CSOL was tooting its horn regarding a pair of positive national rankings from Princeton Review. But it continues to be abundantly clear that the chaos the school has gone through over the last few years has had an impact.
Even several of the school’s alumni were offering bold advice.
“They need to shut it down,” one told us bluntly.
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