St. Augustine's University student claims school owes thousands in federal refund money

Sean Coffey Image
Thursday, May 23, 2024
SAU student claims school owes thousands in federal refund money
A student came to ABC11 with claims he's yet to receive over $13,000 owed to him in student aid refunds.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- There's a new controversy on the campus of St. Augustine's University.

In the midst of a financial crisis on campus, the HBCU has lost its accreditation -- something they are currently appealing -- been forced to transition to online learning, and most recently, become the focus of a Department of Labor investigation for failure to pay employees.

Now, a student is coming to ABC11 with claims he's yet to receive over $13,000 owed to him in student aid refunds.

"I still don't understand how students don't get money that's their money. Not the school's money, not the president's money," that student, who did not want to appear on camera, said.

The St. Aug's student-athlete transferred to the school in 2023 with hopes of starting anew and continuing his athletic journey. Instead, he said the last 8 months have been a nightmare.

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"When I got to the school, I heard nothing but bad things about the school. But I didn't want to believe because all that, because that's not my route. I just wanted to take it in to see how it would be for me," he said.

When a student applies for a federal student loan or financial aid, the amount provided is based on the school's cost of attendance, which is an estimated amount for tuition, room and board, and things like textbooks. If that estimated amount ends up being less than what you borrowed, that student's university issues a refund check for the difference, which at some point must be paid back to the federal government.

This student shared school account information with ABC11 that shows a refund amount of $4,251 for the Fall 2023 semester and $8,930 for the Spring 2024 semester -- a total of over $13,000 the school hasn't paid back.

"That's a lot of money that could help me towards school bills, car, or anything. That could help me in my future that I'm gonna have to pay back out of my pocket after I'm done with school anyway," he said.

That student also provided ABC11 with several email exchanges between himself and the school asking for clarity and a timeline on when that money would be sent out. SAU administrators acknowledged that they were working to issue a refund but have not completed that process -- a back-and-forth that's lasted for five months.

It's left students like this one wondering if they'll ever get that money, but trying to hold on to hope.

"I'm going to try to continue to ask," he said. "So hopefully one day I get my refund checks. Hopefully, we get an email in our email accounts about that, we got a refund check disbursed from the last semester, this semester. That people are just getting the money that they earned and that they deserve."

ABC11 reached out to St. Augustine's for a response but we have not heard back. SAU's website says 100% of students there receive scholarships or financial aid, and the student we spoke with said he believes several other students have had similar issues.