American Career Institute Shuts Down Abruptly in Maryland, Upsetting Students

School's phone number, website, Twitter feed no longer in service

Friday, Jan 11, 2013  |  Updated 12:35 PM EDT
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Students were distraught to hear that all branches of a for-profit college shut down without warning this week, MetroWestDailyNews.com first reported.

The American Career Institute, a job-training school, had three campuses in Maryland -- in Columbia, Wheaton and Baltimore -- and five in Massachusetts.

A message posted on the entrance of the Framingham, Mass., campus on Jan. 9 announced that all locations had closed.

According to MetroWestDailyNews.com, the letter read in part:

"The owner had to make the difficult decision to close the school due to its recent inability to access additional credit from the school's lenders," the notice read. "Without this credit, ACI is not able to continue operating."

The administrative office at the Wheaton campus has been cleaned out, News4's Richard Jordan reports.

The phone number listed for the school is no longer in service, and the school's website and Twitter feed have both been shut down.

It was not immediately clear how students should contact the school for more information.

ACI had offered 12 programs, including graphic design, medical billing and coding, and computer programming.

WTOP.com reports:

"We're kind of devastated," Sally Liska says.

Liska's son, Michael, was set to graduate in August after completing a two-year digital media program.

"We were looking forward to a new career for him."

Instead, she and others are trying to figure out what to do about student loans. Liska says tuition has come close to $25,000. About $2,500 of that came out-of-pocket, with the rest hanging in the balance as debt.

School officials said in their letter that ACI will work with other schools to see if students can transfer. The letter also said that students may be able to apply to have their federal student loans forgiven.

The online WayBack Machine offers an archive of the school's website before it was shut down. ACI's Maryland locations were approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, the site said.

"My experience at ACI has been one of the best for as long as I can remember," read an unsigned endorsement on the school's site. "...The school has opened up opportunities I didn't even know that I had."

For-profit schools have been the target of criticism from senators who say they lead a high number of students to default on their federal student loans, and often have poor job-placement rates. Both members of Congress and the Obama administation have proposed regulations aimed at the schools, the Huffington Post reported.

Stay with NBCWashington.com and News4 for more.

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