Brightwood College Campuses Suddenly Close Across U.S.

SACRAMENTO -- One of the country's largest for-profit college operators shut down all of its campuses Wednesday, drastically affecting both students and employees.

Education Corporation of America owns more than 75 campuses nationwide, including two in Sacramento and Modesto under the Brightwood College chain.

Brightwood is a certificate-granting college for people who want to become professionals in careers such as cosmetology, culinary or the medical and dental fields.

Students and staff received an email Wednesday morning confirming the closure of the school, catching many off guard.

“I am not mad at our current staff that we have, it's not their fault," student Megan said. "This is all a corporate thing and, unfortunately, we all know that we live in a corporate world and sometimes we have to take what they give you."

Instructor Loretta McEldowney says she teared up when she spoke to students.

The shutdown follows years of declining enrollment nationwide.

ECA CEO Stu Reed says new restrictions on student aid and the recent suspension of the college's accreditation left them with no more money to operate.

Many of the nursing students were just two months away from graduation. They can enroll in a different program at another school but it comes with a sizable setback.

“Unfortunately, with those programs, we still have to start all the way back at the beginning," nursing student Andrea Pitzer said. "They won't actually let us transfer straight into one of their programs, which I can understand. So, we're all being set back, at the very least, a year.

And many of the students have also paid thousands of dollars to the college, either through their own means or student loans. That money is now apparently lost.

“It's just a matter of if I can get my money back, which they say we're not going to, and what I can transfer. How much more that is going to cost me,” Pitzer said.

Staff will remain Thursday and Friday so students can come back and get whatever assistance can be provided for them.