The Florida Coastal School of Law says a “procedural issue” resulted in its termination of the federal student loan program, triggering the school’s closure process.
Under the leadership of the American Bar Association, Florida Coastal submitted an education plan on May 7 that would allow the school to maintain accreditation while its students are allowed to transfer to other accredited law schools to complete. their studies.
Florida Coastal President and Dean Peter Goplerud said on May 11 that the US Department of Education ended the law school’s participation in the federal student loan program in April when Sterling Capital Partners, the company venture capitalist who created the school, determined that she could not sign the application. due to legalities involving its status as a limited partnership.
âThe private equity fund that created Florida Coastal expired in 2013, so Sterling had no direct involvement with law school,â Goplerud said.
He said it was the first time since the school’s inception that the government had required a signature on the application for the renewal of the program participation agreement.
When Sterling refused to sign the application, the federal curriculum was withdrawn and this forced Florida Coastal to submit an education plan to the ABA, Goplerud said.
The Department of Education is reviewing a new application for the student loan program, signed by InfiLaw, an entity created by Sterling, and Florida Coastal.
âWe believe we have done everything necessary to be reinstated. It’s not a matter of compliance, it’s a matter of procedure, âsaid Goplerud.
Admissions are on hold until the loan program is reinstated, he said.
There are 180 students enrolled at Florida Coastal, 22 of which are expected to graduate on May 15.
The details of the teaching plan will be reviewed by the ABA Council of the Legal Education and Admissions Section at its May 13-15 meeting.
This is the latest action in the past 17 years since Florida Coastal joined the InfiLaw consortium of for-profit law schools.
Sterling Capital, based in Naples, Florida, bought Florida Coastal in 2004 and at the same time created the InfiLaw system.
InfiLaw founded the Phoenix School of Law (renamed Arizona Summit School of Law) later in 2004 and the Charlotte School of Law in 2006.
All three schools have had issues with the ABA and the Department of Education over admission standards, below-average bar passing rates, and high levels of student debt, combined with a job. below average in Law Society percentages and post-graduation income levels.
The ABA informed Arizona Summit in March 2016 that the school was on probation for violating ABA academic and admissions standards. The school began a teaching plan when its accreditation was withdrawn in July 2018. It closed in May 2020.
In November 2016, the ABA placed the Charlotte School of Law on probation for violating the admission standards required for accreditation. The Department of Education terminated him from the federal student loan program a month later.
Charlotte School of Law closed in August 2017.
In Florida Coastal, the ABA scrutiny began in February 2017, when only 25% of the school’s graduates passed the Florida bar exam.
The National Law School Accreditation Authority conducted a 27-month investigation to determine whether Florida Coastal met accreditation standards for admission requirements and curriculum.
The ABA ultimately said the Florida Coastal School of Law would remain an approved law school, but then questioned the school’s financial stability.
That investigation ended in February 2020 when the ABA found the school to meet standards for ensuring the financial strength of law schools, a requirement for accreditation.
According to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, 68.4% of Florida Coastal graduates who first took the bar exam in February passed, compared to the state average of 62.4%.