- Associated Press - Friday, August 28, 2015

MCALESTER, Okla. (AP) - Eastern Oklahoma State College has been ordered to repay the federal government more than $1 million after some students received student aid when they were not eligible.

The school said Thursday that it will appeal some of findings in the U.S. Department of Education’s March 2014 review of its student aid program, the McAlester News-Capital (http://bit.ly/1UgGgBm ) reported.

The school was ordered to repay nearly $850,000 in student aid for students who were enrolled at its Antlers campus from 2008 to 2014, as well as about $40,000 in interest and $200,000 for missing transcripts and other issues.

“We are extremely disappointed with the outcome of the program review and the severity of this action, especially since the issue was corrected upon learning of the oversight,” said Eastern President Dr. Stephen E. Smith. “To be required to repay financial aid that has already been awarded to students for non-malicious or non-illegal actions is frustrating and confusing.”

Smith said they will seek legal counsel to advise them through the appeals process.

He said the Antlers site was never intended to be a degree granting site, and was instead designed to be a first-year experience for high school seniors and adult students in Pushmataha County who have little access to higher education opportunities.

He said the department wants the school to repay the financial aid funds because the Antlers campus wasn’t previously declared an official location.

Smith said the college’s accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission, was aware Eastern was offering courses in Antlers, and showed no concerns about the site’s operation during previous visits in 2006 and 2009.

The Antlers site is now considered an eligible location after Eastern obtained approval this April by the accrediting agency and the department.

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Information from: McAlester News-Capital, http://www.mcalesternews.com

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