Brightwood College closes suddenly leaving students shocked

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Brightwood College-Indianapolis is shutting down after The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools withdrew the current grants of accreditation.

Students were notified about the closure through email today. In the email, the President and CEO of Brightwood told students they were unable to come up with the money to continue to operate the school.

Here's the full letter to students:

"Dear Students,

In early fall, we undertook a path to dramatically restructure Education Corporation of America (parent company of your school) to best posture it for the future.  This plan entailed the teach out of 26 of our campuses and then the commitment of additional funds from investors.

However, recently, the Department of Education added requirements that made operating our schools more challenging. In addition, last night ACICS suspended our schools' accreditation with intent to withdraw. The uncertainty of these requirements resulted in an inability to acquire additional capital to operate our schools.

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 on Friday, 12/7/2018.

You will receive credit for all courses that you completed and passed by 12/7/2018. Information on how to request your transcript will be posted at www.ecacolleges.com within the next few weeks. If you do not graduate on 12/7, we encourage you to continue your career training by requesting your transcript and contacting local schools to determine transferability.

This is clearly not the outcome we envisioned for you or our schools, and it with the utmost regret that I inform you of this direction.

Stu Reed,

President & CEO"

Many students showed up at the college to find out what was happening today. Most of them don't have a clue on what the future holds. ACICS withdrew their grants for all colleges operated by Virginia College LLC which included all of the Brightwood campuses.

They don't know if their credits will transfer.

The campus will close for good on Friday.

"The most that they gave us is the information for the Department of Education to call them about loan forgiveness, but other than that they don’t know if transfers will be accepted. What credits will or won’t transfer, like they don’t have that information at all to give us," Brightwood student Danishia Smith said.

FOX59 reached out to ACICS for a comment on Brightwood's closure.

Here's their statement:

"On December 4, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) notified the Education Corporation of America, which operates Virginia College LLC, of its decision to withdraw, by suspension, the current grants of accreditation of all the institutions owned by Virginia College.

The December 4 action follows a show–cause directive issued by the Council on September 5, 2018, regarding concerns in the areas of institutional management, communications, curriculum review and revision, construction oversight, and employer satisfaction.  While the institution took steps to address these areas of concern, the Council has since found additional areas of concern across various campuses, including student progress, outcomes, student satisfaction, certification and licensure, and staff turnover.

Additionally, the Council determined that Virginia College is unlikely to be able to continue operations and meet its financial obligations based on its current financial status.  These concerns were initially outlined on October 30 and updated on November 12.

In the latest action, the Council also raised serious concerns about the educational outcomes for the approximately 15,000 enrolled students across all campuses of Virginia College, which include students who are set to complete their studies at the end of the December 2018 term. As such, the Council requires Virginia College to submit evidence of the successful completion of programs for students scheduled to graduate in December.  Additionally, the Council will require evidence of executed transfer agreements to other institutions for students still enrolled after December in order to facilitate the completion of their program of instruction. This information must be submitted to the Council no later than December 19."

Regards,

Michelle Edwards

President and CEO, Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools

Many Brightwood students said they were only weeks from graduating.

FOX59 reached out to Brightwood for comment, but have not heard back.

According to their website, Brightwood College opened its first campus in Dayton, Ohio, in October 2015, and expanded to Friendswood and Houston in Nov. 2015.

In late Nov. 2015, three more campuses in Maryland were added to the Brightwood family. Kaplan College campuses in North Carolina, Indiana, and Tennessee transitioned to Brightwood College in January 2016.

In Feb. 2016, eight Kaplan College campuses in California and eleven campuses in Texas became Brightwood College.

Students are now left to figure out where to go?  Fortis College is one of the last for-profit schools left in the Indy area.  In addition to Brightwood, Harrison College also closed this year.   Fortis already has eight students from Harrison, with 8-16 lined up for their January semester.

“We are meeting retention and our placement goals," said Fortis College Indianapolis Campus President Dr. James Cox, "That's not just at this campus, its at all campuses. When you do that, you don’t have problems with accreditors.”

Fortis is working to bring in students from the Brightwood closure, and said they already have an articulation agreement with Brightwood. The agreement will allow for some ease with certain credit transfers, but students will still have to take 25% percent of their classes at Fortis to graduate.

“Anything is better than nothing, starting from scratch or zero," said Amanda Borland, an Honor Society student at Brightwood studying Dental assistance, “Tomorrow is my last class. It’s a radiology final. I'm due to go to externship on Monday. After 200 hours of externship, I would be scheduled to graduate. The dental office was looking for an extern to hire.”

Borland said she will go to her final, and also her externship to see what they can do.  She is also looking at Fortis.

“Dental assisting and medical assisting, that is something we match right up with at the [Fortis] school here in Indianapolis," Dr. Cox said, "There's a natural bridge into the RN (Registered Nursing Program).  We have a PN (Practical Nursing Program) to RN program.”

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