AP NEWS

Virginia College closing in Florence, other locations

December 7, 2018

Students at Virginia College practice their hair styling techniques at the school's David McLeod Boulevard campus on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017.

FLORENCE, S.C. – The Virginia College Florence campus will close its doors this month.

It is one of a number of Virginia College campuses being closed across the Southeast.

Prior to the school’s closing, Virginia College, including the Florence campus, was placed on institutional show cause by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools as a result of “the final adverse action taken by another recognized accrediting agency and for financial concerns,” according to the school’s website.

According to a report from the Associated Press, the company in October said it owed $46.8 million to unsecured creditors and asked a judge to keep landlords from evicting it at some locations.

The Florence campus is at 2400 David H. McLeod Blvd. According to its website, the campus offered a variety of courses in business administration, cosmetology and massage, culinary arts, health and medicine and other subjects.

Students and employees were emailed on Wednesday about the school’s closing. The email told students that the school had tried to restructure Education Corporation of America, the school’s company, “to best posture it for the future.”

The email said students will receive credits for the classes completed and passed by the closing date, and students who do not graduate this month are encouraged to request their transcripts and contact local schools to determine transferability.

“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 this month. Please contact your Dean or Program Director for the specific closure date of your campus,” said Stu Reed, president and CEO of Virginia College, in the email to students.

The AP reported that Toby Merrill, director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending, said students can ask the U.S. Department of Education to cancel loans if a school closes.

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

One former employee, Lethonia Barnes, who was the program director of the cosmetology program, said she left the college about a month ago because of the changes she saw in the school.

She said she hates that the school is closing right before Christmas because a lot of single parents work at the school.

“To have this pulled from them is horrible, but they’re now having to go back to go to the drawing board – especially before Christmas,” Barnes said. “These things happen.”

Barnes said she is in shock that the school is closing.

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