Westech College, a for-profit trade school with three campuses in Southern California, has closed suddenly because of financial woes.
The Los Angeles Times reports that students showing up for class Monday at Westech locations in Fontana, Moreno Valley and Victorville found locked doors and a notice saying the school was forced to shut down because of financial issues.
Students expressed concern about getting tuition money back and making sure their credits will be honored at other schools.
Westech offered career programs including drafting and design, heating and air conditioning, fitness training, veterinary assistance and medical office administration.
The California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education sent representatives to the area Monday to help students obtain transcripts and financial aid documentation.
When a school closes, students have the right to request a refund from the school, to have student loans discharged, to request tuition reimbursement from the Student Tuition Recovery Fund and to transfer to another school, the bureau said in a notice on its web site to Westech students.
Westech’s financial troubles seem to involve a change in the way the U.S. Department of Education let the school gain access to money for students’ financial aid. Usually, a school can draw down federal funds before disbursing that aid to the students.
But in December, the Education Department told Westech it would have to give out its own money and then apply for reimbursement from the government.
The Education Department made this change as a result of “serious findings of noncompliance … including the failure to pay refunds,” it said in a Dec. 16 letter to Westech College President Barry Malecki.
The letter also cited “complaints that indicate lack of financial and administrative capability” at the school.