Morris Brown May Get Debt Relief from Government

HBCU is negotiating a deal to lower $9.9 million government debt to just $500,000.

Posted: 04/26/2011 12:14 PM EDT
Filed Under HBCU

Atlanta HBCU Morris Brown College is in negotiations with government officials to pay just $500,000 of the $9.9 million the HBCU owes to the federal government.

The debt is due to the school not refunding federal student aid for students who either dropped out or transferred.

Morris Brown has faced a mountain of financial issues in the past leading the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to revoke its accreditation in 2003. In 2006, the school’s former President Delores Cross was convicted of embezzling student aid money. In addition, the almost $10 million they owe to the government is just part of the institution’s larger $30 million debt total (the remaining amount is owed to various creditors). But leaders at the school believe paying down the federal debt is at least a step in the right direction toward regaining accreditation.

“This gives the college hope,” Morris Brown President Stanly Pritchett told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This gives us a spirit of optimism we have not had in a very long time.”

The college, founded by slaves in 1881, is now a shell of its former self. The school, which once enrolled 3,000, is now down to 85 students. And it now only offers three majors: general studies, business administration, and organizational management and leadership, said Pritchett.

The school is seeking to begin the accreditation process again, which can take up to five years.

Morris Brown could reach an agreement with the government in a couple of weeks, Pritchett said. After which, the school will have 90 days to pay; if they don’t, they’ll owe the full amount.