'Look, I’m really sorry’: Virginia College chief marketing officer speaks after sudden closure

Virginia College chief marketing officer speaks after sudden closure

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Thursday Virginia College’s chief marketing officer apologized after the school announced it would be suddenly closing all it campuses across the country, including the one in Huntsville.

Huntsville’s campus was originally scheduled to close in June, but Wednesday Virginia College announced all faculty would be leaving by Dec. 18.

The change came after the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools suspended Virginia College’s accreditation with intent to withdraw.

The ACICS cited “concerns in the areas of institutional management, communications, curriculum review and revision, construction oversight, and employer satisfaction."

It also raised concerns about the financial standing of Virginia College’s parent company, Education Corporation of America.

WAFF 48 News reported Wednesday how this left several students scrambling for a plan B and unsure of the future.

Chief Marketing Officer Steve McClearn said the sudden closure was not expected.

“Look, I’m really sorry. I mean, this was not foreseen. We’re doing this because we’re effectively in bankruptcy right? So it’s not like the money is anywhere and it’s being kept,” he said.

“I know people have spent a tremendous amount of time, and in some cases you’re really close to graduating. This is terrible and I’m really sorry.”

What happens to the credits and the money?

McClearn said Virginia College will be doing everything it can to help students transfer their credits.

“We’re literally talking with dozens of partner schools who may be able to help a student complete their education elsewhere. We’re getting their transcripts both to the students as well as to the state so they can access it on an on-going basis," he said.

McClearn said information on accessing transcripts should be on the website in the coming days.

He also confirmed that Virginia College would not be refunding tuition payments for completed courses or returning Title IV loans for any courses taken.

However, he said Virginia College will be returning Title IV loans for courses not yet taken.

The federal government does offer loan forgiveness, more information can be found here.

Local cosmetology school offers to help

Following WAFF 48′s coverage on Wednesday, the President of New Beginning College of Cosmetology reached out to offer her help to Virginia College cosmetology students.

Amanda Baugh said the Albertville school accepts 80 percent of transfer credits earned, but said she would be reaching out to the schools' accreditation agency about making a 100 percent exception for the Virginia College students.

“Because I am a former cosmetology student and I’ve been to school before, just the fact of the students having spent all this time for their schooling and paying all this money, it’s very unfortunate for the students and the parents that’s had to contribute to the school,” she said.

“I just want to try and help the students finish the training that they’ve started."

She said the school would talk finances with each student on a case by case basis.

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