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Arkansas Baptist College hit with civil lawsuits

July 19, 2014

LITTLE ROCK — Several lawsuits have been filed against Arkansas Baptist College for unpaid bills.

The historically black college in Little Rock has struggled to pay its bills, meet payroll obligations and deliver financial aid checks to its students since last year, the media reported this week.

One of those lawsuits filed this week in Pulaski County Court says the college twice bounced a $157,016 check to pay for furniture it bought from a Texas-based company, Southwest Contract.

Earlier this month, the state's department of workforces filed a lien on the college's property, because of about $131,400 in unpaid unemployment insurance contributions, interest and penalties. In May, another lawsuit filed against the college says the school did not repay a $132,325 loan from national company GreatAmerica Financial Services.

Overall, the private college with around 1,000 students has had seven civil lawsuits filed against it since January 2013.

Arkansas Baptist College President Fitz Hill has said before that the college's financial situation was a result of "cash flow" problems. When the U.S. Department of Education placed the college on Heightened Cash Monitoring Status last year, it affected how fast the college receives funds from the federal government for student aid.

LaCresha Newton, the college's chief of staff, wrote in an email that a lot of the challenges the school has faced are because of how it receives payment for federal student financial aid. She added the college is "fully cooperating with our vendors and has provided them with the information required to secure our obligations as we continue to make progress in paying each of our creditors in full."

The college must provide proof to the Higher Learning Commission, a national agency, next month that the financial and internal problems that could jeopardize its accreditation have been resolved.

"We want the community to know that Arkansas Baptist College appreciates its committed employees, dedicated students, patient vendors and supportive community during this challenging time," Newton said.

"We have every intention of returning to solid financial footing in the days ahead."

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