HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
The Heald College campus in Honolulu is among 28 campuses nationwide that have been shut down by its parent company, Corinthian Colleges.
The closures were announced Sunday in a statement from the Santa Ana, California-based company. The closures also include Heald campuses in California and Oregon, as well as Everest and WyoTech schools in California, Arizona and New York. A total of 16,000 students are affected, including about 1,000 in Honolulu. The students were informed of the closure in an e-mail from Corinthian.
"I was kinda frustrated because I was two months away from getting my degree, and also it's just getting harder because they didn't give us a warning," said Mark Corpuz, who was studying for a degree in health information technology. "They just told us that everything is going to be okay."
Last year, the cash-strapped company had agreed with the U.S. Department of Education to sell Heald's California and Hawaii campuses by mid-April or shut them down.
"My friends are pretty angry about it, too," said Corpuz. "Some of them are in the same situation as me. And also some of them, they quit their jobs just to be full time students."
Earlier this month, the department fined the company $30 million dollars for allegedly misleading students about its job placement rate.
In the statement announcing the closure, Corinthian Chief Executive office Jack Massimino said, "We believe that we have attempted to do everything within our power to provide a quality education and an opportunity for a better future for our students. Unfortunately the current regulatory environment would not allow us to complete a transaction with several interested parties that would have allowed for a seamless transition for our students. I would like to thank our employees for their selfless dedication and commitment to fulfilling the educational and career goals of all of our students.“
"First they were fined, and after being fined, they had to stop enrolling students, so it was an eventuality, so I was not that surprised," said Ashton Cudjoe, president of Hawaii Medical College, a competing school that began getting phone calls from Heald students shortly after after the announcement.
"We're setting up a 'frequently asked questions' regarding transferring credits, things of that nature, as well as financial aid, for current students that may want to complete the program," said Cudjoe.
Corpuz, who was so close to graduating, wants Heald to "hopefully let us finish, at least for the people who are graduating, finish it out and try to get at least our degree."
It's still unknown whether students will get refunds for tuition and books for the quarter that just began on April 20.
In the letter e-mailed to students, Corinthian Colleges said student meetings will be held Wednesday and Thursday at the Heald College campus. Students with last names beginning with A through L will meet from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and students with last names beginning with M through Z will meet from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on both days.
The e-mail letter from Massimino concludes by saying, "We know that you have worked very hard and in many cases made significant sacrifices in pursuing your education. We are enormously proud of you, and we hope we have helped you on your road to a better and brighter future. We are disappointed that we could not accompany you for the entire journey. We wish you the very best of luck."