Area nursing students might find themselves in an unfamiliar classroom next year. Dozens of Missouri colleges, including the Hannibal Career and Technical Center, are turning to consolidation thanks to a new federal interpretation of student loans.
"Our practical nursing program just celebrated its 50th year in the Hannibal Public Schools. We had our 50th graduation in August," said Roger McGregor, the school's director.
Hannibal Career and Technical Center's current class of nursing students will be its last. The school's agreed to transfer its nursing program to Hannibal LaGrange University by next August. The university currently offers an entry-level associate degree program, and a bachelor's degree completion program.
"The federal department of education is interpreting the laws around student loans differently than in year's past. They're interpreting it that a school's required to do accrual based accounting.And the majority of the technical and career schools in Missouri do cash-based accounting. It would not be cost effective to convert with the programs we have," said Mcgregor.
The nursing program is the only field the school is transferring. That will enable at least some of its students to receive financial aid. But these new guidelines affect 26 schools across Missouri who might not be as lucky to find a partner in education.
As for students specializing in other fields like weldering, firefighters, cosmetology, they'll have to make a tough decision.
"Instead of getting financial aid, if they want to come for those programs, they'll have to pay that all out of pocket, or find some lending agency outside the federal government," said McGregor.
The school's director says cutting funding for the career training will just hinder state's skilled laborers.
Current students with the tech center will graduate with their class; future students will attend Hannibal-LaGrange University.