DURHAM, N.C. — For-profit colleges are expected to shut down three campuses in North Carolina cities before the end of the year.
Email obtained by The News & Observer of Raleigh show that Dream Center Education Holdings this week notified University of North Carolina officials the company will close the locations that enroll 3,000 students. The newspaper reports that the company says it will close the Art Institutes in Durham and Charlotte and South University in High Point.
The University of North Carolina system was notified this week that has decided to close the three campuses, a move that will affect more than 3,000 students, according to internal email communications among UNC system staff who handle licensure issues for universities that operate in North Carolina.
All three will cease enrolling students for the upcoming term, the letter said.
The Art Institute campuses in Durham and Charlotte are among more than 30 campuses across the country run by Dream Center. Art Institutes offer classes in animation, design, film and audio production and fashion, as well as a culinary school. The Durham campus takes up several floors in the American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham and enrolls about 70 students.
A spokeswoman for Dream Center Educational Holdings said that she could not confirm the closures in response to a question about the UNC communication.
State law gives the UNC board of governors the authority to issue licenses to nonpublic and out-of-state institutions that operate degree programs in North Carolina.
Currently-enrolled students would have certain rights under both state and federal law, North Carolina Justice Department spokeswoman Nazneed Ahmed said. Those rights would depend on each student’s circumstances, but could potentially include a plan allowing students to finish their academic programs, forgiveness of federal loans or recovery of lost tuition under a bond the school posts with the state, Ahmed said.
“Federal law provides specific direction about how students are to be notified of their rights if and when their school closes,” Ahmed said.
Dream Center Education Holdings acquired the three North Carolina schools earlier this year from Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corp., a for-profit school operator. Following the sale, the schools were supposed to transfer their status as for-profit institutions to nonprofit. That transfer hasn’t been approved by the U.S. Education Department, the agency said Friday.
That limits the schools’ ability to receive federal student loan money. The schools are only eligible to participate in a federal student aid program on a month-to-month basis, an Education Department statement said.