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Antonelli Making Arrangements For Its Students

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – A potential loss of federal grant money that helps students pay for education at the Antonelli Medical and Professional Institute, 1700 Industrial Hwy., has prompted the school to stop accepting new enrollments, and begin making arrangements for current students to continue their educations elsewhere, according to a notice posted Friday morning (Aug. 25, 2017) on its website.

The school, which has operated in the Pottstown area for 31 years, was notified Tuesday (Aug. 22) by the U.S. Department of Education that its application to be recertified in federal student financial assistance programs on behalf of its enrollees was denied. The school was bought during 2013 by American Business Academy, headquartered at the time in Wilmington DE.

In a letter to academy Chief Executive Officer Edward Gillespie, the Education Department said it was terminating Antonelli’s four-year participation in so-called “Title IV” financial aid programs, effective next Thursday (Aug. 31). The letter claimed the academy’s failure to satisfy liabilities involving another school it earlier owned – American Beauty Academy, which closed in 2015 – caused the department to deny funding for Antonelli students.

“In simple terms, (Antonelli), its directors, faculty, and students have done nothing wrong in this matter. We have a proud history of serving students and the community for over 30 years,” school Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director Rick Reikob said in the website notice. “I understand that this is extraordinarily difficult news to hear; this is a life altering change for you all,” he added in a comment directed to students.

Reikob on Wednesday (Aug. 23) announced a decision to temporarily cancel classes. Only two days before, a flattering feature story published in The Mercury newspaper promoted a new barber education program the school started in late July.

Antonelli and American Business Academy reportedly have two weeks to seek an appeal and ask the Education Department to reconsider its decision. There was no immediate indication if an appeal would be filed. However, the Antonelli notice said it was attempting to make alternative arrangements for some if not all of its students. Specifically:

  • Students involved in day or night professional externships outside the school “will be offered the
    opportunity to complete their externship and ultimately to complete their program;”
  • Day students “currently in their last module” of a program “will have the opportunity to complete (it) with classes resuming on Monday, August 28th” at their regular times;
  • Students enrolled in day or evening sessions “and not yet in their last module of class or on externship will be provided information in the coming days regarding their ability to complete their training at another area-institution.” Antonelli was “already in negotiations with a number of other area schools that are willing to help our students complete their education,” it said;
  • Students currently enrolled in Antonelli’s nurse aide program will be refunded all monies paid. Any students who paid cash for a portion of their program will be contacted by mail as to their options regarding return of funding, “with the exception of Barber Students, whose governance comes directly from the State Board of Barber Examiners;” and
  • Barber students currently enrolled will have an opportunity to continue their education with Champion’s School of Barbering” in West Chester PA.

“All currently enrolled students that participated in a Title IV program will be eligible to apply for loan forgiveness once the school has officially closed its doors permanently. As it stands, the school does not intend to close its doors until students that are currently on externship, and those that are in their last module have completed their externship,” it added.

Also, “all students will receive an official copy of their transcript, an unofficial copy of their transcript, and a copy of their general ledger card.” They were expected to be mailed next Tuesday (Aug. 29) to addresses on file.

Photo by The Post Publications

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