Andria Bryant is still in shock following the abrupt closure of the college she's been attending for nearly a year.
"All the doors are locked. Everything is cleaned out and there's just a note on the front doors," she said.
Following the likes of Wright Career College, Regency Beauty Institute , Marinello School of Beauty and ITT Tech , Heritage College is yet another for-profit college to suddenly close its doors in Kansas City this year.
In operation for 30 years, Heritage had 10 locations nationwide, with 140 students at their Kansas City location near Holmes and I-435.
"What they offered was an associates degree in our program, which isn't offered at a lot of schools in this area," said Bryant, who was just one month away from completing a degree in aesthetics.
Bryant even has several classmates who walked at a Heritage graduation ceremony in September and were supposed to take their final test for their degree next week.
"What we were assured was, 'no Heritage is fine. Ya know we've got a lot of people trying to get into school and our school is going to be fine,'" she said Heritage administrators told her recently.
However, Heritage quickly closed their campus Tuesday afternoon, leaving a note on the front door for students, reading in part, "The reason for the campus closures is that Heritage does not have the cash to continue to run its business."
According to the Kansas Board of Regents , Heritage had to close because the college was misusing Title IX funds, allegedly altering grade and attendance records in order to keep students and their government loan money at the school.
"They have a lack of cash flow due to the fact the federal government will no longer fund loans for them," said Ken McClain, an attorney who represents hundreds of former Wright Career College students.
"They get students to sign up simply on their ability to qualify for federal loans, not on their ability to learn or complete the education or go on and receive jobs."
The federal government has been cracking down on for-profit schools who may be altering records in order to keep students on federal loans at their school. McClain said it's a "bad bet" to consider any for-profit college.
"It’s inevitable that more and more of these will go out of business," he said. "And if they're a nontraditional institution, generally be skeptical about them. Our community colleges, our not for profit, traditional institutions are much better choices. And whatever steps you need to go through to get in to them are worth it in the long run as opposed to these shortcuts."
McClain said it's a big red flag if the admission process is too simple.
"If in fact you say to yourself, 'I don't think I can get into college,' and someone comes up and says 'don't worry about it. We'll get you in,' it's a red flag," he said.
Other things to consider when selecting a college
Look at the College Scorecard , which shows important data based on the school’s results.
Only consider colleges accredited by NCATE, the National Council Accreditation of Teacher Education. Although for-profit schools will claim to be accredited, they only do so through their own accrediting agency. Heritage College was accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.
See if the college is on the federal Heightened Cash Monitoring list .
Schools may be placed on the list if there are concerns regarding accreditation, late or missing finances, or other outstanding liabilities.
For those who have been defrauded by a for-profit college, there may be possibility for loan forgiveness .
Wichita Area Technical College has offered assistance to the Heritage College students who have been affected from the Wichita campus. The Kansas Board of Regents said no updates have been sent to them regarding students from the campus on KCMO.
All former Heritage students affected by the closure are being directed to email@example.com to request transcripts and other inquiries.
Josh Helmuth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org