By Jacob Newby
After previously planning to shut down in October 2019, the Virginia College campus in Pensacola and all other campuses of the for-profit college will close at the end of the current term.
The president and CEO of Virginia College’s parent company, Education Corp. of America, relayed to students in an email this week that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools was cutting off Virginia Campus’ accreditation.
ECA President Stu Reed added that as a result, the school is discontinuing all operations and canceling enrollment.
Reed’s letter in full, as obtained by USA Today, reads as follows:
In early fall, we undertook a path to dramatically restructure Education Corporation of America* (parent company of the campus in which you applied) to best posture it for the future. This plan entailed 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. 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.
We encourage you to pursue your career training with another school in your area that offers the same or similar program.
This is clearly not the outcome we envisioned for you or our schools, and it is with the utmost regret that I inform you of this direction.
President & CEO
ECA owns more than 75 campuses and enrolls at least 20,000 students, according to Inside High Ed. In October, the company reported nearly $50 million in debt to unsecured creditors, prompting ECA to seek legal remedies before landlords evicted it from its locations, according to USA Today.
The private school offered courses in health care, technology, criminal justice and other trades.
In September, the News Journal was told by ECA spokeswoman Diane Worthington that “insufficient demand for the college’s programs in the Pensacola market” was the cause for the imminent shutdown.
Worthington announced on behalf of the ECA this week that before the company shuts down its campuses, it is working to grant transcript access to existing students who won’t be able to obtain their credits before the schools close.
She released this statement to the News Journal on Thursday afternoon:
“After many years of training students for new careers, it is with a heavy heart that today we announce that Education Corporation of America is closing all its career colleges effective with the completion of the current module or term for most students,” Worthington said. “We will work with students to ensure access to their transcripts so they can complete their studies at another school. We are proud of our thousands of graduates who have entered the work force with skills they acquired at our schools along with our faculty and staff who have shown unwavering support for our students. This is not the outcome that we envisioned and is one that we recognize will have a dramatic effect on our students, employees and many partners.”
Virginia College moved from its 25,000-square-foot downtown Pensacola location in May 2015 to a 43,000-square-foot location at 312 E. Nine Mile Road, citing increasing enrollment.
The new campus was an investment of $5.1 million in construction, furniture, equipment and signage costs.