JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Florida State College at Jacksonville students are happy to be waking up Wednesday to hear the school’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to retire debt owed by students.
The school decided to take money from a scholarship fund that currently has about $6.5 million in it to pay off $4.2 million in Pell Grants mistakenly given out and $0.8 million in ineligible loans.
“They did the right thing, and to me that’s the most important thing,” says student Randy Durden.
Durden, a Culinary Arts student, formed a Facebook group and an online petition to hold FSCJ responsible for the debt to the federal government.
“To start with, I would say they handled it very poorly,” he says. “However, during the process with the attorney and the school’s attorney, in all honesty, it’s been easy.”
He gives a lot of credit to the Board of Trustees and FSCJ’s interim President Dr. Willis Holcombe, whom he says he’s going to personally call and thank.
“They’ve cooperated one-hundred-and-ten percent, especially Dr. Holcombe. He’s been right there, side-by-side with the attorneys, trying to get everything situated.”
Durden believes the school was misguided to start with, but they eventually got on the right track. He says this decision will save them more negative publicity in the long run. Since the grant money story came out, he says the school’s attendance has been down.
“With them stepping up and acting in accordance to not only federal laws, but just acting in good faith, it just shows the students in the community that the school is actually willing to work with the students and they’re here to better us,” he says.
Durden says it’s over now, and he’s happy they were able to get it all taken care of “without having to go through any legal proceedings or anything getting nasty.”