Staff, students left in limbo after college’s sudden closure

Local News

A chain of for-profit colleges abruptly closed Wednesday, leaving students and staff across the country scrambling.

Birmingham, Alabama-based Education Corp. of America is closing schools operating as Virginia College, Brightwood College, Brightwood Career Institute, Ecotech Institute and Golf Academy of America in more than 70 locations in 21 states. 

The school specialized in programs including nursing and skilled trade.

Students in Las Vegas were notified by e-mail Wednesday morning that the college will cease operations on Friday.

“I was shocked. As a matter of fact, I was disappointed,” said student Carolina Fata.

In October, the company said it owed $46.8 million to unsecured creditors. ECA announced it was closing some locations once students completed classes, but said it would continue others.

“The Department of Education added requirements that made operating our schools more challenging,” said Stu Reed, President & CEO of Education Corp. of America. “In addition, last night ACICS suspended our schools’ accreditation with intent to withdraw. The uncertainty of these requirements resulted in an inability to acquire additional capital to operate our schools.”

Carolina Fata wants to become a nurse.

“I’m here just to go into the office and find out what we as students have to do,” Fata said. 

Now, Fata is forced like everybody else to find another path. 

“I found out that ECA screwed us over. They didn’t give us a severance package. We have medical until Friday and they just threw us out to the wolves and we don’t know what we’re going to do,” said Sherry Teten, an admissions advisor. “It’s the holiday’s. We don’t know where our next meal is going to come from. So, it’s very heart-wrenching”

According to an e-mail sent to students, information about transcripts and transfer recommendations will be available on Dec. 17.

“I’m still in shock and still numb because I gave my heart to it all,” said Teten. 

Students may ask the U.S. Department of Education to cancel loans if a school closes. 

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