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For-profit college closes operations, surprising students

A troubled chain of for-profit colleges has closed abruptly in dozens of locations nationwide, after its accrediting agency suspended approval.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP / NEWS 8) — A troubled chain of for-profit colleges has closed abruptly in dozens of locations nationwide, after its accrediting agency suspended approval.

Birmingham, Alabama-based Education Corp. of America on Wednesday closed schools operating as Virginia College, Brightwood College, Brightwood Career Institute, Ecotech Institute and Golf Academy of America.

The company in October said it owed $46.8 million to unsecured creditors, asking a judge to keep landlords from kicking it out of locations.

ECA earlier announced it was closing some locations once students completed classes, but said it would continue others.

Project on Predatory Student Lending Director Toby Merrill says students can ask the U.S. Department of Education to cancel loans if a school closes.

The company website says information about transcripts and recommendations about transfers will be available starting about Dec. 17.

The vice-president of communications, Diane Worthington, spokesperson for parent company Education Corporation of America, did not respond to News 8's request for comment. 

The San Diego Campus has a nursing degree program as well as other medical programs. Vista and Chula Vista campuses have vocational nursing programs. 

Brightwood College used to be called Kaplan college locally.  In September 2018, ECA announced they would close down 26 campuses nationwide. 

The college's administrator at the Balboa Avenue campus, who asked not to go on camera, told News 8 that in San Diego more than 1,000 students would be affected. Students, administrators and faculty were notified of the closure. 

In an email to students, Stu Reed, president and CEO said: 

Dear Students,

In early fall, we undertook a path to dramatically restructure Education Corporation of America (parent company of your school) to best posture it for the future.  This plan entailed the teach out of 26 of our campuses and then the commitment of additional funds from investors.

However, recently, the Department of Education added requirements that made operating our schools more challenging. 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.

It is with extreme regret that this series of recent circumstances has forced us to discontinue the operations of our schools. Your campus will close on Friday, 12/7/2018.
You will receive credit for all courses that you completed and passed by 12/7/2018. Information on how to request your transcript will be posted at www.ecacolleges.com within the next few weeks. If you do not graduate on 12/7, we encourage you to continue your career training by requesting your transcript and contacting local schools to determine transferability.

This is clearly not the outcome we envisioned for you or our schools, and it with the utmost regret that I inform you of this direction.

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