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Virginia College in Chattanooga to abruptly close this week

Image: WTVC

UPDATE (Thursday):

Chattanooga State Community College has planned an immediate response to help students displaced by the closing of Virginia College. Affected students may attend an Information Session on Monday, December 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the Instructional Materials Center (IMC/Library), room 124.

Depend on us to keep you posted.

UPDATE (Wednesday afternoon):

58,001 students have graduated from Virginia College. Rebecca Vandergrif planned to be one of them.

“I would have recommended it to anybody,” said Vandergrif.

That's until Wednesday, when she learned the college is closing its door abruptly.

Cate Green is the Academic Dean at the Chattanooga campus.

She is just as shocked as students.

“It’s very somber. We have some of the best students in Chattanooga,” said Green.

The phone keeps ringing as students and alumni ask what's next. Green says she's working with Miller-Motte, Chattanooga State and other nearby campuses to create an agreement for students' credits to transfer.

“Any of our current students may have the option to finish their programs, just not here,” said Green.

The shock hits Christina Oliver in more ways than one.

“I was one of the very first students who started here. I started the day classes opened,” said Oliver.

She's called this campus home for 12 years. First as a student then an employee.

“It's going to be hard to watch it go,” said Oliver.

She along with 30 other staff members are losing their jobs.

They're distracting themselves from disappointment by taking care of their students first.

ORIGINAL STORY:

The owners of Virginia College in Chattanooga, the Education Corporation of America (ECA), have announced that it is closing all campuses nationwide this week.

That includes the Virginia College campus in Chattanooga, located at the Eastgate Mall.

"We are shocked and saddened by this move, and our students have always been our highest priority at the campus," said Chris Montgomery, Virginia College Director.

Montgomery says all current students will finish on Friday, and will not be able to continue. He says the Culinary Department will finish on December 18th.

An article posted at InsideHigherEd.com says ECA owns more than 75 campuses and enrolls at least 20,000 students in mostly certificate-granting professional disciplines such as cosmetology, culinary arts and medical and dental assistant programs. The article continues,

"The shutdown follows years of declining enrollment for the chain. More recently, the privately held company scrambled to turn around its troubled finances by closing about a third of its campuses and pursuing a corporate overhaul through a court-approved receivership. But ECA continued to be dogged by creditors after falling behind on payments and rent for many campus locations. In October the company filed a lawsuit, which was later dismissed, against the U.S. Department of Education in an attempt to maintain its access to federal student aid."

The article also says a skeleton crew of employees will remain on campuses to assist students with obtaining documentation of their programs.

Earlier this year Virginia College announced it would no longer enroll students as of September. The college's website has not yet been updated with this new development.

This is a developing story and will be updated as we get new information.

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