I-Team: Stone Academy received $1.8 million in COVID relief money

Stone Academy got $1.8 million in COVID relief money
Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 7:40 PM EST
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(WFSB) - Hundreds of Stone Academy students are still waiting to learn what will happen to their student loans now that the school is closed.

Stone Academy abruptly closed all 3 of its campuses last week.

The I-Team has learned Stone Academy itself already had almost $2 million worth of government loans forgiven.

A number of former students held a rally outside of the Waterbury campus Tuesday.

One of the students was Kalene Rivers, who had a sign saying “Where is my $35,000?”

“They keep saying they are going to reimburse us. They keep saying well we’ll reimburse half. We’ll reimburse 75%, and we have seen no action,” said Rivers.

Rivers borrowed thousands to attend Stone Academy only for it to shut down before graduation.

Public data shows the LLC behind Stone Academy, Career Training Specialists, received $1,782,500 in 2020 from the Paycheck Protection Program.

The entire loan, including interest, was forgiven in 2021.

University of New Haven associate professor Frank Chen explained PPP loans were designed to help small businesses retain employees during the pandemic.

Loans were then forgiven if the business’ expenses fit the criteria.

“Eligible borrowers have to spend at least 60% of the loan on payroll,” said Chen.

Records show Stone Academy claimed its PPP loans paid for 239 jobs.

As of 2023, the Office of Higher Education only had records for 117 faculty at Stone.

The Office of High Education has also said 20% of Stone Academy’s instructors were not qualified to teach in the practical nursing program.

It’s unclear if any federal loan dollars were spent paying unqualified teachers.

The students now protesting think something isn’t adding up.

“We trusted them with our money, and there they are walking off with all of our money and some,” said Rivers.

The I-Team has reached out several times to the owner of Stone Academy, Joseph Bierbaum.

He has not returned our calls or texts.