A Connecticut for-profit nursing college shut down abruptly. Now it’s facing two state investigations.


A long-troubled for-profit nursing college in Connecticut that shut down last month is now swept up in two state investigations, as regulators try to deduce if its abrupt closure infringed on consumer protection law.

Stone Academy — which last month closed its three campuses in East Hartford, Waterbury and West Haven — faces twin state probes. One is being initiated by the Connecticut Office of Higher Education, which is hiring a third-party auditor to evaluate the legitimacy of the institution’s academic records and programs. The other comes from the state attorney general, who is investigating whether the closure violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The closure also coincides with increased federal oversight of poorly performing colleges, particularly for-profit institutions. The Biden administration has prioritized forgiving loans for students whose for-profit colleges defrauded them. And it’s considering crafting a public list of colleges with poor financial returns, which the for-profit sector fears will target its institutions.

At Stone Academy, local news reports document how the state regulatory clashes have harmed its some 850 students, who were already left in the lurch after the unexpected closure but now cannot access their transcripts while the state higher ed office’s audit continues.

The college has arranged options for students to transfer, called teach-out plans, with a few Connecticut institutions. Connecticut agencies have also promoted that Stone students can seek to have their tuition partially refunded through a state program and can also request the U.S. Department of Education discharge their loans. 

Perry Rowthorn, a lawyer representing Stone, said in an emailed statement the college is “concerned with the misguided and chaotic conduct of the Officer of Higher Education in precipitating and compounding this crisis, misreading applicable regulations and misstating facts, impeding students’ access to their transcripts, and threatening to nullify hard-earned educational attainments of approximately 1200 current students and recent graduates.”

Rowthorn said the higher ed office had demanded the immediate closure of Stone’s programs, scrambling teach-out plans. He criticized the audit as “unprecedented and unnecessary,” also accusing state officials of seizing “Stone’s student records in a haphazard manner – removing records seemingly at random, failing to inventory them, and transporting them in their personal vehicles.”

About Stone Academy

Stone Academy has existed in some form since the 19th century, starting as the United States College of Business and Finance in 1864, according to an archived version of the institution’s website.

It was sold off and transformed multiple times over the years. At one point in the 1980s, it centered on “practical business instruction” before transitioning to an allied healthcare focus in the ‘90s. 

However, the academy has been dogged by scandal. Its former owner, Mark Scheinberg, last year paid more than $1 million to federal prosecutors to settle allegations that he attempted to conceal certain loans from being counted in the college’s student loan default rate. He was also accused of not reporting Stone’s higher default rate to the federal Education Department.

Scheinberg divested from the institution as part of the settlement.

This year, all three sides of what’s known as the higher ed regulatory triangle — state agencies, accreditors and the federal Education Department — began taking action against Stone.

Connecticut’s higher education office, which Stone notified of its closure on Feb. 6, had already raised concerns about the academy prior to its closure.

Colleges that offer practical nursing programs in Connecticut must see at least 80% of their students pass what’s known as the National Council Licensure Examination every year. 

If a program fails to reach that benchmark for three years running, state regulators can yank their approval to operate. 

None of the programs on Stone Academy’s three campuses attained the 80% pass rate last year, the higher ed office said. In fact, one of the East Hartford programs had not met that standard in three years, leading to the Connecticut Board of Examiners for Nursing in November to vote to end approval for it. West Haven’s day and evening programs both failed to reach the benchmark in 2021. Its day program failed in both 2019 and 2020.


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