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Hundreds of students displaced by the sudden closing of a Connecticut business school and two other institutions will have a chance to find new schools next week.
The Connecticut Office of Higher Education says it has scheduled information sessions in Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport for students of the Butler Business School in Bridgeport and the Sawyer Schools in Hartford and Hamden. The schools, along with two other Sawyer Schools in Rhode Island owned by the same company, closed suddenly on Dec. 30.
At the all-day sessions, students will be able to get answers to questions about their transcripts, transfer and other training options, tuition reimbursement, loan forgiveness, financial aid, and more. Six career schools are participating: Branford Hall Career Institute, American Institute, Lincoln Technical Institute, Stone Academy, Porter & Chester Institute, and Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute. Gateway Community College, Housatonic Community College, Central Connecticut State University, and other colleges are also taking part.
At the time of the closings, the Connecticut Office of Higher Education says, 355 students were enrolled at the three Connecticut schools: 137 at Butler, 121 at the Sawyer School in Hartford and 97 at the Sawyer School in Hamden. A number of students who have already completed their studies have taken certification exams or received certificates of completion, according to an OHE statement (PDF).
The schools’ sudden closures came after they lost millions in federal student aid as the result of a steep drop in enrollment. The reason for the drop is unclear, but one possible culprit is a recent change in federal regulations. The schools allowed students to earn a GED while enrolled, but new federal regulations that took effect on July 1 require newly enrolled students to have a high school diploma or GED in order to receive federal financial aid.
The schools have been stripped of their accreditation, and the owner, Rhode Island-based Academic Enterprises, is under investigation by the state police, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Education. Academic Enterprises has not responded to repeated requests for comment.