Former student: 'I knew it was coming,' as Morthland College shuts doors

WEST FRANKFORT, IL (KFVS) - Morthland College in West Frankfort, Illinois will not open in Fall 2018.

This is due to lack of funding, according to a press release.

According to the college:

"Following an early January of 2017 General Assessment Program Review by the United States Department of Education, a Heightened Cash Monitoring, Level 2 sanction was imposed on the college on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017, ultimately leading to an emergency action letter the following August, representing the Chicago-Denver office's attempt to revoke Morthland College's ability to disperse federal funds entirely. To date, MC has received no program review report from the Department's January of 2017 visit. MC's appeal of its August of 2017 emergency action letter currently sits in the Office of Hearing and Appeals in Washington DC, where parties have been in settlement negotiations since late November of 2017 and to date have been unable to reach an agreement."

The college was unable to disperse federal aid after the Dept. of Education imposed a sanction in January 2017. The closing of this small college in southern Illinois has students and faculty forced to start over.

The college does not have the funds to open this fall. The college denies the allegations in the Dept. of Education's emergency action letter. They say they are cooperating with the Illinois Board of Education and it's accreditation agency.

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Ninety percent of the students require funding, so according to a school official, the school lost majority of its students in Summer 2017.

Morthland College Former Student Shannon Williams is not in good standing with the college and anticipated the downfall.

"I guess I would say I knew it was coming, that's why I left in the first place," she said.

Williams says the college has left a bad taste in her mouth.

"I am totally glad it's finally closing, I feel like he's done a lot of people wrong, I feel like he knew what he was doing," she said.

Williams was a student at Morthland for three semesters, from Fall 2012 to Fall 2013. When she planned to transition from the college, she ran into some problems.

"I started reaching out to John A, Rend Lake and SIU, learning that Morthland College really had lied and that none of the credits were transferable at all," she said. "So I had to start fresh, like I had never been a college student. And I had to pay for everything again."

Williams says that she lost $12,000-$15,000 that she was not able to recover.

Former Biblical Studies Professor David Melvin says he does not think the college is guilty.

"I don't believe there was ever any intent to abuse the system to take advantage of students or to swindle anyone," Melvin said. "I think the schools was done with the best of intentions and I think that while mistakes have clearly been made along the way, I think the intent and mission was always good."

In addition, Melvin explains that there are a cluster of problems, but it comes down to the finances.

"The root cause is financial," he said. "When that federal aid was cut off, that cut off the main source of funding for the school. And then once the news about that came out, donors started pulling their funds, and then we eventually ended up with no money coming in at all."

Williams finally finished at Rend Lake. She has a job now as a Radiological Technician at Carbondale Hospital.

"It was a lot of hard work to start over again and keep going, but I'm happy with what i did though," she said. "I just hope that all the students that are there now just don't give up and just find the drive to keep going and make a career."

The closure will result in 150 jobs lost.

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