‘They’re taking our dreams away’: Students stunned after for-profit college chain closes

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By Daniella Silva

Jasmin Cantú, a student at Brightwood College in Texas, said she was in the middle of taking a medical assistant certification exam Wednesday when a school official came into the classroom in tears, delivering a message Cantú never thought she would hear.

The school was shutting down and the last day of classes would be Friday, she said.

“It was a shock to all of us. Everybody was in tears,” she said. “Everybody had no words to even describe what it feels like to just be told your campus is closing and there’s nothing they can do about it.”

Jasmin Cantu, 19, who was a student at Brightwood College in McAllen, Texas.Courtesy Jasmine Cantu

Cantú became one of roughly 19,000 students left scrambling after Education Corp. of America (ECA), one of the largest for-profit college chains in the United States, said Wednesday it was suddenly closing roughly 70 campuses around the country. Students found themselves unable to complete their programs and teachers were out of a job after ECA’s accreditor said recognition for its schools would be suspended.

ECA operated several chains of schools, such as Virginia College, Brightwood College, Golf Academy of America and Ecotech Institute, throughout the nation.

For ECA students who took out thousands of dollars in loans, including Cantú, 19, the school closures leave them with a major dilemma.

Students can ask the Education Department to cancel loans when a school closes or attempt to continue their education at another school that may not accept their credits, said Antoinette Flores, an associate director of Postsecondary Education Policy at the Center for American Progress. On average, students at for-profit schools were “significantly” more likely to lose their credits, she said.

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