RALEIGH (WTVD) --The largest barber school in North Carolina is closing nearly half of its schools. The closure of Park West Barber School is leaving some students scrambling and wondering what went wrong.
Danielle Robertson, a mother of four is devastated.
"I cried all day yesterday. I couldn't eat," Robertson said. "We have put so much time and effort and energy into something that we're passionate about, and it's been taken from us."
Park West Barber School says rising operating costs in maintaining multiple campuses are the reason for closing its locations in Raleigh, Greensboro, Virginia and South Carolina. Owners say its Durham and Charlotte locations will remain open.
Kevin Oates saw barber school as a chance to own his own business - now that he's disabled.
"It just doesn't seem real to me," Kevin Oates says. "I woke up this morning and started getting ready for school and thought about it. I don't have school today."
Students need 1,528 credit hours to receive their barber's license in North Carolina.
The closure is a setback to students who commuted from as far as Fayetteville and Smithfield.
"I have 900 hours and you mean to tell me my 900 hours means nothing right now?" Cassandra Bell of Smithfield asked.
Dennis Seavers, executive director for the state board of Barber Examiners said it is working with the school to make sure those credits get counted.
"We have the hours and so if students want to transfer to another school, we are able to provide them and the schools that they are going to transfer to with those hours so that they get credit for the hours they have completed through March 26, 2016," Seavers said. "Full credit for any hours that were reported to us."
The US Department of Education says Park West Barber School was recently placed under Heightened Cash Monitoring (HCM) after concerns during a program review of the school.
Although the agency would not go into detail about the concerns, it said issues can be related to accreditation, late or missing annual financial statements, outstanding liabilities, or concerns around administrative capabilities.
Park West Barber School has listed on its website that students who received federal financial aid may be eligible for a school closure discharge.
Statement from the US Department of Education:
The US Department of Education is reaching out to Park West Barber School's owners and its state licensing body, NC Board of Barber Examiners and accreditor to confirm the school's closure and to work with such oversight bodies to ensure students have access to their transcripts and records and are communicated to about the options available to them.
Essentially, when an institution precipitously closes, there are two key options available to students:
Closed School Loan Discharge: If a student attended a Park West Barber School that closed while the student was attending or soon after they withdrew, and they did not complete the program of study, they may be eligible for a closed school discharge. A closed school discharge is a 100 percent discharge of the federal Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans, or Federal Perkins Loans the student took out to attend the closed school and a reimbursement of amounts they may have already paid to the government.
Credit Transfer: Instead of applying for a closed school discharge, a student may wish to keep the credits they have earned from Park West Barber School and transfer those credits to another school with a comparable program. If a student chooses to transfer into a comparable program offered by another school, that school will evaluate their Park West course work and will decide whether to give them credit for the work already completed, and what courses they would need to take to complete their program of study.
If a student transfers the credits they have earned at Park West toward a comparable program at another school, they will not be eligible to receive a closed school loan discharge.
In addition, some states may offer a tuition recovery fund to help reimburse disenfranchised students who did not finance their education via federal loans when closures occur. For more information on the availability of this option, contact the NC Board of Barber Examiners.
Park West Barber School was placed under Heightened Cash Monitoring (HCM) in response to concerns identified during a program review. The program review process is ongoing and no details concerning the program review can be publicly shared until the review has concluded and a final program review report is issued to the school.
It is important to note that the Department does not have the authority to "close" institutions. Its jurisdiction remains to ensure the integrity of the Title IV federal grants and loans issued on behalf of eligible students at participating institutions. Relatedly, the under HCM2, funding is not suspended and an institution can submit a reimbursement request for consideration at any time.
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