Update 11/2/16: Our camera was rolling Wednesday as students learned for the first time they were locked out of class.
Heritage College abruptly closed its doors leaving some students tens of thousands of dollars in debt, without a diploma and wondering where to turn.
Here's Heritage College's statement.
They said they ran out of cash and were forced to close due to “a declining number of students” and “decreased demand for services of for-profit schools."
Nora House is the director for the Oklahoma Board of Private Vocational Schools helping students figure out a plan to either transfer to another school or apply to have their federal student loans discharged.
“If someone wasn't able to transfer, if they didn't have their credits accepted, there is a thing called a closed school discharge, that way the student loan doesn't hurt the student's credit record,” House said.
The for-profit sector is going through a major shake-up right now.
Heritage College is the third for-profit school to abruptly shut its doors in Oklahoma this year.
We know state legislators are revisiting the state's requirements of the colleges and may impose stricter financial guidelines.
“One of our thoughts is, if we get the information sooner, have our own list of red flags, of alerts, triggers, we can monitor closer, and then at that point we might put some interim, some kind of middle of the way interventions in,” House said.
That won't help these former Heritage students right now.
We found one option for them right next door at Oklahoma City Community College.
John Claybon, OCCC Professional Development Institute Program Director, said he and his staff offer similar programs and believe OCCC could be a good fit for some students hoping to complete their degrees or certificates.
“It's a matter of case by case,” he said. “We need to sit down and look at what programs they've actually completed, what they took and look to see if there's some type of assessment in place."
OCCC’s Resource Day:
- Monday, November 7
- 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
- Location: Professional Development Institute (7124 S. I-35 Service Road, 73149), right next to Heritage College
OKLAHOMA CITY - Students said there was no word or warning.
Our phones in the newsroom have been ringing off the hook with calls from students locked out of Heritage College in south Oklahoma City.
The school shut its doors for good Tuesday afternoon.
Lasheta Ford has two young kids and was supposed to graduate later this month.
“I feel defeated,” she said. “It's hard not to be upset in front of them. I'm really upset.”
Now, she's left without a degree and tens of thousands of dollars in student debt.
“I just, they could have had the decency to tell us,” she said. They were all here, directors, instructors here, none of them apologized. They just left.”
Gwyneth and Sheila Maust’s daughter was going to school to become a medical assistant.
“She has $30,000 in loans,” they said. “The sad part about it is she has five kids.”
We heard other stories of more single parents trying to make a better life for their family.
Stefanie Riley was just 10 days away from getting her diploma.
“I spent a lot of crying when I got the phone call,” she said. “I don't know what to do.”
That phone call from a fellow student who found out on Facebook.
We tried getting answers from Heritage College.
We called and emailed them, but so far there's been no response.
The Oklahoma Board of Private Vocational Schools tells the In Your Corner team they're scrambling to get information to students and are in talks with other local schools about helping to facilitate transfers.
“Hopefully, we'll be able to get her transferred into another program,” Gwyneth said. “We don't even know if Heritage College credits will transfer.”
It appears Heritage College is closing all 10 of its campuses nationwide.
As of Tuesday evening, its website was still up and operating.
The OBPVS is requesting student transcripts from Heritage College.
They're working to register students with their office, so they can help them figure out their next step.