JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Hundreds of FSCJ students who were told they were erroneously awarded federal financial aid are now off the hook for repaying that money.
Tuesday, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to retire debt owed by students related to ineligible federal financial aid awards.
As of September, FSCJ said an audit had uncovered that there were about 1600 invalid appeals, students who were given federal financial aid despite not providing proper documentation. FSCJ said it resulted in overpayments of $4.2 million in Pell Grants and $0.8 million in ineligible loans. It's money many students said they shouldn't have to pay back.
Randy Durden, a Culinary Arts student, formed a Facebook Group and anonline petition to hold FSCJ responsible.
He was told about a month ago that he had to repay about $1600 in Pell Grant money. Tuesday night he was elated to learn that debt has been erased.
"The decision was to retire the debt from all of the studentswho were falsely given these Pell Grants, so pretty much anybody who has actual money owed from the Pell Grant no longer owes that money to the school," explained Durden. "I'm excited and happy that something I actually started on behalf of all of these students actually went through without getting nasty."
FSCJ said students will be notified in writing. The college also said the funds that will be used to cover the debt come from existing $6.5 million quasi-endowment funds accumulated from auxiliary operations like vending machines and book bookstores. The money willnot comefrom taxpayer funds or student tuition and fees according to FSCJ.