Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education
Jersey Nursing School Sold, Then Saved: Students from Defunct Harrison Career Institute Campus Didn't Know If They Would Be Able to Continue Their Education
Dozens of students who attend the Deptford, N.J., campus of the Harrison Career Institute are getting a second chance to continue their nursing education.
The South Jersey campus stopped participating in a federal student aid program this year, leaving about 40 nursing students scrambling to either find new funding or find another school.
In its prime, HCI ran 13 campuses across Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But financial problems and decreasing student enrollment have forced the institute to close seven campuses in recent months.
Many of the institute's long-standing financial issues have been resolved, however, after the sale of the Deptford campus to the Lincoln Technical Institute. The sale means the campus's nursing students will not have to look elsewhere to continue their education.
"For a while, many students did not know what we were going to do," says student Sabrina Washington. "Fortunately everything has been resolved as far as our student aid is concerned, and we no longer have to worry."
In January, HCI's Deptford campus stopped participating in Title IV, a federal student aid program that includes Direct Loans and Pell Grants. According to Fred Fitchett, the institute's president, the decision was the result of ongoing problems with the U.S. Department of Education.
In 2005, facing allegations of student financial aid fraud, HCI agreed to enter the Education Department's Heightened Cash Monitoring program. As part of the program, the school applied for reimbursement instead of receiving aid money up front, says Fitchett. Typically, schools receive the reimbursement within 30 days of the request, he says. But HCI was forced to wait up to four months in some cases. The delayed reimbursement forced the school to operate on cash reserves during the 2005-2006 academic year.
"It just got to the point where we couldn't sustain it. We just couldn't keep going on that way," Fitchett says, adding that the Education Department still owes HCI at least $1 million in student aid reimbursement. "It's one of the most horrendous examples of governmental abuse, as far as I'm concerned," he says. …