A state response is being drafted to help a group of students who found the doors to their college locked tight Monday morning.
The closure of Career Point College, according to its president and CEO, is linked to the violation of federal student aid rules.
The closure notification - posted at the front door of Career Point College is the same information students like Rita Watson got in an e-mail Sunday.
"When I read the letter, I thought it was a hoax,” said Watson.
The e-mail was from college president Larry Earle who stated two months ago they discovered three employees had collaborated to violate federal student aid rules. Earle claimed no money was stolen and promised to repay everything that was taken. But when the department of education responded by placing tighter restrictions on the college - the decision was made to close.
"I don’t know what else to do, I don’t know where to go from here, should I go left or right, up or do, I just want to finish and that’s it,” said Stanley Anyanwu.
Throughout the day, students gathered in front of the college. Shocked and angry.
"We don’t want apologies, we don’t want sympathy, we want what we paid for. We didn’t ask for anybody to give us anything free, we worked hard, we sacrificed family, sacrificed work, we sacrificed a lot,” said Renae Rodriquez.
The Sunday-notification letter made it clear that administrators knew the college was in trouble for quite some time, yet FOX 7 was told as recently as Saturday, tours were still being given to new students. As for the students who are stuck in this situation, three different state agencies are trying to help out.
The Texas Workforce Commission is trying to assist students who were taking vo-tech classes. But most were in nursing programs regulated by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the state nursing board. Career Point has three campuses in Texas that offer degrees. Two in San Antonio, with almost 400 students, and about 100 at the Austin campus.
"All I’m asking for is the opportunity is to finish what I started,” said Rita Watson.
An emergency plan is being put together by the state to find other schools that may be able take the students.
"It’s just a very hard moment right now when you have sacrificed everything that you could to just put into the program to be the nurse you wanted to become,” said Whitney Picou.
FOX 7 has learned an inquiry letter was sent last week to Career Point after state officials heard about the federal financial aid problem. Information was requested regarding the following issues;
- The "self-reported fraud"
- Expected graduation dates
- Student contact information
- Account balances
- Comparable programs
- Transfer or teach out agreements
- Permanent student records custodian
- Resources to complete degrees
While a response is not due until October 21st, students are worried about what to do about the public and private loans they took out to pay tuition.
"She is supposed to be graduating, what are we going to do now, where do we go from here, what about the debts that we owe, what about the time we have wasted, we need answers, we need to know who did what,” said Anyanwu.
State officials say, by rule formal notification was required before the college was to shut down. FOX 7 was told the state found out Sunday about the same times students got their e mail. Limited help may be available for federal tuition loans, but new deals with private lenders may be more difficult to negotiate. Career Point also had a campus in Tulsa- which was also closed down.
Resource page from state Higher Ed Commission
Texas Nursing Board
Federal Tuition Refund Assistance
Texas: Tuition Trust Account, Texas Workforce Commission, Career Schools and Colleges,
101 East 15th St., Austin, TX 78778. (512) 936-3100.