Local college in limbo

February 11, 2008 3:15:55 PM PST
Students who've paid thousands of dollars in tuition at San Francisco's New College are wondering when, or even if, classes will resume.

The spring semester was supposed to start a month ago.

The New College of California was founded in 1971 and describes itself as the most progressive school in San Francisco. But on Thursday, it's closed and students and faculty are in limbo.

Dorothy Joo is a second year master's student at the New College of California.

"We were supposed to start school again on January 8th and we're just waiting around," said Joo.

Dorothy is one of about 300 students waiting for the gates to open at New College.

She was scheduled to graduate in June with a master's in psychology. Her student loan that pays for her $5,500 dollar a trimester tuition and living expenses was put on hold.

"I Moved in with my sister and it takes me an hour and a half to get to my internship now," said Joo.

Money is the reason for the shut down of New College.

"It is our understanding that the Department of Education is holding out several million dollars in financial aid," said Ralph Wolff from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

The dispute between the Department of Education and the college is over record keeping for financial aid.

Without the money from the student loans, the school is as good as closed.

The non-profit Western Association of Schools and Colleges gives accreditation to colleges and universities like U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State, as well as New College.

ABC7's Matt Keller: "Why wouldn't they come to you for help?"

"Well, all I can say is at this point in time, they have not," says Wolff.

A lack of communication seems to be a problem here at the New College of California. Students say they sent a certified letter to the acting president and he has not responded. The accreditation service says the communication here is troubling. And faculty and staff haven't been paid in several months.

"We have lawyers say, it's not like you went to Harvard or Yale. What did you expect?," said Joo.

Students are hoping for a teach out. That's where an outside agency pays professors with financial aid, to teach students to graduation.

But until New College decides what to do, everyone is in limbo.

"I think at this point the only thing that students can do is wait, but I can understand if their patience is wearing thin," said Wolff.

The acting chair of the Board of Trustees Tedd Corman said New College is working with the Department of Education to get the financial aid money.

The Western Association of Schools and colleges will meet with the acting president and trustees on February 20th to review the school's accreditation.

If that falls through, New College will not be able to receive any future financial aid.


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