174 students left without already-paid-for education
By Meagan McGone
BREVARD - Conor Deeny has hoped to become a pilot since the age of 5. Now, the 18-year-old former Pilot Training College student is unsure when his dreams will take flight.
Mr. Deeny, who is from Ireland, was one of 174 aviation students who were, until recently, training with Florida Tech. Pilot Training College, which is based in Ireland, started a contract with Florida Tech in November 2011 to offer its students training at the Melbourne-based university.
According to a news release from Florida Tech, the school was forced to end its relationship with Pilot Training College due to a lack of payment.
"Florida Tech estimates that Pilot Training College owes the university at least $1.4 million for training and housing that has already been provided," the news release stated. "The university spent months attempting to resolve the ongoing payment issues with Pilot Training College, but with no success. Florida Tech has filed legal action against Pilot Training College."
Another former Pilot Training College student, who agreed to comment on the condition of anonymity, said that when he enrolled at Pilot Training College, he paid about $100,000.
"As of today (July 16), every student is having to find more money to continue their training with another school," he said. "My life, as well as the lives of other students and their parents, has become very, very stressful."
Wesley Sumner, vice president for marketing and communications at Florida Tech, said 101 of the 174 Pilot Training College students have chosen to continue training with Florida Tech. Of those students, 63 will be sponsored by airline company Air Astana, and 38 will be self-sponsored.
"All of the students would like a refund of as much money as possible," said the unidentified source. "This situation has just left us waiting. We all feel very cheated and annoyed at the situation being allowed to escalate to the level it has."
Currently, the affairs of Pilot Training College are being handled by an examiner within the Irish Aviation Authority. The examiner will assess the college's situation and advise those involved of their options, according to the Irish Aviation Authority's website, www.iaa.ie.
In an effort to offer assistance, Florida Tech is providing no-charge housing and meals to the affected former Pilot Training College students through Aug. 1. Additionally, the school is working to help students meet their visa requirements, according to the news release.
Pilot Training College was unavailable for comment.