Sojourner-Douglass appeals federal order


Sojourner-Douglass College is appealing an order by the U.S. Department of Education to terminate its student loan and grant programs, a department spokesman says.

A hearing before an Education Department administrative law judge is scheduled for Feb. 20 in Washington.

Six months ago, the department ordered a halt to all federal student aid programs at Sojourner-Douglass after college President Charles W. Simmons failed to answer a federal inspector general's subpoena for 50 student transcripts.

The department also found "serious deficiencies" in the college's administration of federal student loan funds and accused it of failing to submit reports detailing how it allocated and spent financial aid money over an eight-year period.

Simmons did not return repeated phone calls to comment on the appeal.

Last summer, Simmons said that 65 percent of the 235 students at the small, private institution at 500 N. Caroline St. rely heavily on financial aid to attend classes. He added that termination of the federal programs could threaten the existence of the college, which has had high loan default rates since it opened in 1972.

Shortly before the aid programs were ordered terminated last Aug. 16, Simmons announced plans to expand Sojourner-Douglass' course offerings to Trinity College in the Bahamas.

The move was part of an international educational exchange program started by Simmons that aims to "enhance the trend of cooperative education and understanding of the Africa diaspora throughout the hemisphere," according to a news release on the program.

Sojourner-Douglass also plans to establish student exchange programs in Brazil, West Africa, Senegal, Kenya, Zambia, Barbados and Egypt, the release said.

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