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Virginia College students react to school closure

Virginia College and its other for-profit schools lost their accreditation on Tuesday.

Posted: Dec. 6, 2018 5:10 PM
Updated: Dec. 7, 2018 12:04 PM

Students at Virginia College are scrambling to figure out their next steps after the school announced it will be shutting its doors next week. WAAY 31 talked to some students and found out many of them are single parents who went back to school with the hopes of giving their children a better life. 

"That was my whole motive to make a better life for my kids and now that's all been taken away from me," said Raqueal Hamlett.

Instead, what most of them got is a bunch of debt and no degree.

"My son this morning, he said 'Mama, your school is on TV", you know, and I'm like 'Mama won't be going to school anymore,' and he's like 'Why mama?'" said Hamlett. 

This is the question Hamlett and her fellow Virginia College classmates have after learning the Huntsville campus is closing. The school sent students a letter Wednesday telling them they'll close next week. They won't get refunds and they have to find somewhere to transfer their credits. With just five months left in her program, Hamlett is left frustrated.

"You've put a damper on so many peoples lives, because so many people wanted to come to school. They want to make it better. They want to do this. They want to make it better."

After her husband died, Hamlett enrolled in school paying $3,000 out of pocket and leaving her full-time job for a part-time job all to make a better life. Her classmate, Katharane Edwards, also made huge sacrifices to return to the classroom.

"We had to take out a loan and so that I could come here, and I couldn't find a job to work with my hours so I couldn't work, and eventually we had to move back in with my parents."

Both Hamlett and Edwards are still processing the news and figuring out what to do next.

"I don't know how much more I can take because it's like every time you turn around when you make 10 steps forward, you make 20 backwards and I'm so close to the end and that's what hurts me so much," said Hamlett.

Not only are the students affected by the sudden closure, but the teachers are too. Many of them learned they would not receive severance packages they had been promised. 

Education Corporation of America, which is based in Birmingham and owns Virginia College, posted information on its website. It said Virginia College and its other for-profit schools lost their accreditation on Tuesday.

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