5 Steps to Do Right Now to Continue Learning
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By APUS Staff
The history of higher education in America is rife with success stories. Conversely, college closures have disrupted the learning and career goals of their abandoned students. The impact of those closures can be widely felt. This month, over 20,000 active learners nationwide found themselves facing this dilemma when colleges operated by the Education Corporation of America (ECA) abruptly ended enrollment and canceled future classes. The schools affected are:
- Brightwood College
- Brightwood Career Institute
- Ecotech Institute
- Virginia College
- Golf Academy of America
In 2016, ITT Tech suffered a similar fate after nearly half a century of operations. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) banned ITT Tech from enrolling students who receive federal aid. At the same time ED doubled the surety funds that ITT Tech was required to have on hand and to produce those funds within 30 days. Stock markets reacted with a punishing 35% drop that triggered a halt in trading, raising concerns about whether ITT Educational would be able to survive. On September 6, 2016, ITT Tech ceased operations and closed all of its locations, issuing a statement that attributed the closing to the Department of Education’s actions.
While institutional leaders and policymakers sort out the aftermath of the EDU closures, it is the students who are left scrambling to ensure they can continue their education when they return from the holidays. For some, the closures are enough of a barrier to either pause or discontinue their education. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are a few steps you can take right now to keep moving forward on your learning path.
1. Contact Transfer-Friendly Universities
While the impact, and the inconvenience, on those who suddenly find themselves without an educational home is considerable, many institutions including American Public University have team representatives prepared to help you transfer and maintain continuity in your education.
At APU, we want to help you make a plan that’s right for you. Whether you are interested in transferring to APU or another institution, our representatives are available to answer your questions about the transfer process and find the right degree program to match your goals, financial aid, and much more. You’ll also want to verify that the institution has the right degree or certificate type, along with programs that align with your discipline (for example, American Public University offers over 200 programs).
Call 877-777-9081, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or Live Chat to connect with an admission representative for assistance. Normal hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
2. Gather Your Academic & Financial Aid Records Immediately
According to the U.S. Department of Education website, “It’s important for you to obtain your academic and financial aid records if your school closes since you might need those records if you plan to attend another school.”
If you do not have your complete academic or financial aid records on hand, do not hesitate to request them from your institution. “Prior to closing, your school is required to make accommodations for you to access your academic records indefinitely. Your school must communicate information about your academic transcripts once the location has been determined, ED explains.
ECA colleges are currently developing a support website that will be available about December 17. It will provide details on the transcript process and other important information. Be sure to check back often and request all of your records as soon as possible. That way you will have the documentation needed when you’re ready to transfer to your next university and to fast-track you into a new program and minimize the delay to completing your education.
3. Understand Your Financial Aid Options
If your school closes while you’re enrolled or soon after you withdraw, you may be eligible for the discharge of your federal student loan. If you were receiving financial aid, it’s important that you contact your loan servicer promptly so that you understand all of your options for either continuing your financial aid at another school, or if you wish to learn more about eligibility requirements for a loan discharge due to a school closure. Visit the Federal Student Aid site for further guidance.
4. Maximize Your Credits
Don’t leave your hard-earned credits behind. Be sure that any college you look into has a robust transfer credit process. American Public University recently revamped its transfer credit evaluation (TCE) website to help current and incoming students receive the maximum credit for their previous academic and professional experience.
By transferring credits from an accredited institution or from personal professional experience, students enrolling in American Public University’s online programs will join the 87 percent of our students who have an average of 37 transfer credits. Those transfer credits can accelerate the pursuit of a degree or certificate and save money on educational costs.
In addition, a new policy under “Associate Degree General Education Fulfillment” allows prospective students with an associate degree from a regionally accredited institution recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to leverage that degree for up to 30 credits of the general education requirements of a bachelor’s degree. Credit may vary based on specific program requirements.
5. Verify Accreditation Type and Status
Understanding the value of accreditation and what it means to you as a student and to your professional goals is as important as researching and deciding which college best suits your needs. Academic quality, reputation among employers, credit transferability with peer institutions, and qualifying for Federal Student Aid are all influenced by accreditation status.
Accreditation is the certification by a recognized accrediting body that an educational institution has voluntarily met established academic requirements through comprehensive and continual review.
ED formally recognizes the accrediting commissions that meet required federal standards. As you consider the schools you might transfer to, be sure to review their accreditation status as an institution. Many specific degree programs, like nursing or business, have specialty accreditations that are common to the industries they serve.
American Public University is part of American Public University System accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). HLC accredits degree-granting institutions located in a 19-state region, and is recognized by ED and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. For detailed information about institutional and specialty accreditations, check out American Public University.
6. Check all Financial Aid Possibilities
If you are planning to use Federal Student Aid (FSA), Tuition Assistance (TA), Veterans’ Assistance (VA) or any other form of financial aid to pay your college expenses, contact the appropriate department as soon as possible to learn about APUS’s policies and procedures regarding financial aid.
7. Check with Transfer Credit Evaluators
If you have credits from another college or university, contact the Transfer Credit Evaluation (TCE) department to learn APUS’s policies and procedures regarding TCE. Your TCE can be completed at no cost to you.