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Brightwood College announces sudden closure amid accreditation, financial turmoil

Posted at 2:11 PM, Dec 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-05 20:25:06-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Brightwood College Wednesday announced the abrupt closure of all nationwide locations due to accreditation and financial turmoil.

A letter sent to students dated Dec. 5 blames requirements implemented by the Department of Education as well as trouble with investors.

In the letter, students were told to contact their dean or program directors for specific closure dates. The notice also sites suspension of accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.

"Everyone was in tears today. It's heartbreaking," said Ria, who was among dozens of students sharing their feelings in the parking lot outside the college in Kearny Mesa.

Students say it was about 8:30 a.m. when their instructors informed them Brightwood College locations were shutting down.

"Apparently they filed for bankruptcy," said student Kiesha. "And there's nothing we can do even though we haven't started the term yet."

Dismay turned to anger as many students worry their tuition is now lost.

"I can show it to you if you want," said Brandon digging into this backpack for a tuition receipt. He says his payment was accepted by Brightwood Wednesday morning, likely just minutes before the closure announcement. "This is my payment that was posted. You see it's Dec. 5 here. And the amount that was sent in is $8,397."

Students were promised credit for all courses completed and passed by the closure date.

Stu Reed, CEO of Brightwood's parent company Education Corporation of America, issued a statement to students expressing regret and blaming the closure on added requirements by the Department of Education, making the operation of the schools more challenging and discouraging investors.

Along with uncertainty for students, the closure was also a blow to staff and proprietors like Marc Taylor, who ran a deli at the Kearny Mesa college location.

"We heard some stuff. Some rumors and stuff," said Taylor. "But we were told that everything was going to be okay. And then, obviously, everything's not okay."

An instructor at Brightwood who wanted to remain anonymous said students with government loans for their tuition would be able to apply for loan forgiveness given the school's closure. But he admitted it would probably be a tougher situation for those with private loans.

He also said Brightwood was already working with other vocational colleges to try and help their students transfer and continue their education.

Howard Healthcare Academy is also offering assistance. Students can call 619-ACADEMY to learn more.

Brightwood has locations in San Diego, Chula Vista, and Vista. The for-profit college offered job-specific training in a number of fields.