Spotlight: Major U.S. for-profit college chain closes campuses after losing accreditation
Last Updated: 2018-12-10 15:38 | Xinhua
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One of the largest for-profit college chains in the United States, the Education Corp. of America (ECA), is closing dozens of its campuses across the country this week due to loss of accreditation and shortage of funding.

The company, based in Birmingham, the southern U.S. state of Alabama, runs more than 75 campuses under a variety of names in 21 states and serving at least 20,000 students in October, local media reported on Thursday.

The move comes after the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools suspended ECA'S accreditation on Dec. 4, dealing a fatal blow for the company which reported in October nearly 50 million dollars in debt to unsecured creditors, said a USA Today report.

A statement on ECA's student information page announced the December 2018 closure of its campuses, including those operating as Brightwood College, Brightwood Career Institute, Ecotech Institute, Golf Academy of America and Virginia College.

A letter addressing students by Stu Reed, ECA's president and CEO, said extra requirements from Department of Education "made operating our schools more challenging."

"The uncertainty of these requirements resulted in an inability to acquire additional capital to operate our schools," said Reed in the letter.

"It is with extreme regret that this series of recent circumstances has forced us to discontinue the operations of our schools. Unfortunately, this means that your enrollment will be cancelled and there will not be future classes at the campus in which you enrolled or any Education Corporation of America campuses," Reed told the students.

If a school closes, students with loans can ask the U.S. Department of Education to cancel those loans, according to Project on Predatory Student Lending Director Toby Merrill.

Friday would be the last day of classes at most locations of ECA colleges. However, students would get academic credit for this term, according to media reports.

According to the ECA website, the company offers associate degrees, diploma/certificate courses, master's degrees and baccalaureate degrees at its various campuses and online.

"The goal of ECA-operated schools is to be responsible to our students, the technical and business communities and the general public," said the ECA website.

The company is the latest in a series of U.S. for-profit colleges to close for multiple reasons, including hike of student debt, upswing in the economy leaving fewer adults willing to pay for job skills, tightened federal regulation on the for-profit college industry as well as allegations of them failing to provide students with marketable skills.

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