TBR colleges, THEC offer assistance to students of Brightwood College, Virginia College

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Several College System of Tennessee institutions and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission are reaching out to students of two proprietary colleges whose parent company announced are discontinuing operations.

Education Corporation of America announced on its website that operations of its Brightwood College and Virginia College campuses are being discontinued this month. Brightwood College has a campus in Nashville and Virginia College has campuses in Chattanooga and Knoxville. ECA’s website says that it will post information for students on how to request transcripts and other questions by Dec. 17.

Chattanooga State Community CollegeNashville State Community CollegePellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, and Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, plus the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology in Knoxville and Nashville have all launched outreach efforts to the affected students to notify them that transfer and financial aid options are available to continue their educations.

Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville and TCAT Nashville both continuously enroll new students. The community colleges and colleges of applied technology are institutions of The College System of Tennessee, governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR).

In addition, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) has posted information for students on its website, at https://www.tn.gov/thec/bureaus/student-aid-and-compliance/postsecondary-state-authorization/institution-closure-information-2.html. Students of the affected colleges can also sign up to keep up to date with information on that site. THEC is a state agency officially charged with coordinating higher education in the state.

Chattanooga State has scheduled an information session on Monday, Dec. 10, at 5:30 p.m. in the Instructional Materials Center (IMC/Library), room 124.  It will be led by Marsha Barker, director of adult services, and Reed Allison, director of financial aid, will be on hand to answer questions about financial aid. Between now and Monday, students may visit the Federal Student Aid website to learn more about what to do when a school closes. The site provides tips on transferring to another school, obtaining academic transcripts, more about federal student loans, and how to contact your loan servicer for assistance. 

“We want to create a sense of welcome and give students any help they need to continue and/or complete their education,” said Chad Jaynes, Chattanooga State's manager of technical training.

Students may sign up for the December 10 information session at www.chattanoogastate.edu/tnreconnect or call (423) 697-3346 with questions.

Nashville State announced today a commitment to work with students from Brightwood College who may be impacted by the recently announced closing. “We will evaluate potential coursework transfer one student at a time and provide individual academic advising to help those affected by the closing,” said Bryan Thomas, associate vice president for extended campuses at Nashville State. “With six campus locations across Middle Tennessee, we are uniquely positioned to work with interested Brightwood College students.”

Nashville State offers several programs that align with Brightwood College including business administration, nursing, occupational therapy assistant and paralegal studies.  Brightwood College students seeking to learn more about the transfer process are encouraged to contact Bryan Thomas at Bryan.Thomas@nscc.edu or 615-353-3348, or the Office of Admissions directly for help in the process. That can be done in person at any campus location, by phone at 615-353-3215, or by email at admissions@nscc.edu.

Pellissippi State’s Leigh Anne Touzeau, assistant vice president for enrollment services, said Pellissippi stands ready to help. “We understand this can feel like an insurmountable setback to Virginia College students, and we invite them to contact us to see if one of our career programs or transfer programs are right for them,” said Touzeau.

Pellissippi State’s 14 career programs result in associate degrees that prepare students to enter the workforce in high-demand, competitive fields including computer information technology, electrical engineering technology, engineering technology, mechanical engineering technology and media technologies.

Pellissippi State also offers transfer programs that allow students to get started in their field of choice, earn an associate degree and then transfer seamlessly to a four-year institution.

A full list of Pellissippi State programs is available at www.pstcc.edu/catalog.

“Our goal here at Pellissippi State is to help students start strong, stay strong and finish strong,” Touzeau said. “We know this is a scary time for Virginia College students, and we would love to help them continue their educational journey.”

Volunteer State has an information session planned for Thursday, Dec. 13, to let the displaced students know what options they have in continuing their education at Vol State. The college offered similar help to students after the ITT closure in 2016. Students will be able to meet with Vol State admissions advisors about transferring credit and financial aid. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. at the Hampton Inn at Providence, 5001 Crossings Circle in Mt. Juliet.

For a complete list of the credit programs offered at Vol State visit www.volstate.edu/academics. Vol State has also created a web page for Brightwood and Virginia College students: www.volstate.edu/joinus

TCAT Knoxville President Dwight Murphy said counselors at his college are already working with several former Virginia College students to help them to continue to achieve their educational goals. "We are ready to reach out to others students affected by the closing of Virginia College. We are working at articulating their previous hours into the following TCAT Knoxville programs: medical office information technology, surgical technology, industrial electricity, HVAC-R (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration), administrative office technology, cosmetology, dental assisting, and medical assisting.

"Our staff is committed to helping these former Virginia College students toward articulating their hours through enrolling in one of TCAT Knoxville’s programs, graduating and finding employment in their field of study!" Murphy said.

Students of both colleges may be eligible for Tennessee Reconnect, the state’s last-dollar scholarship for adults without a college degree or certificate. Reconnect covers college tuition and mandatory fees that aren’t paid for through other state and federal financial aid. Information and an application are available at www.tnreconnect.gov.

The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.