CCSF reaching out to displaced Heald College students amid sudden closure 

click to enlarge Esther Howard, 24, and Silvina Gutierrez, 20, left, stand in front of Heald College Wednesday after an abrupt closure by Corinthian Colleges Inc on Sunday that left hundreds of Bay Area students questioning their academic future. - MIKE KOOZMIN/SF EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/SF Examiner
  • Esther Howard, 24, and Silvina Gutierrez, 20, left, stand in front of Heald College Wednesday after an abrupt closure by Corinthian Colleges Inc on Sunday that left hundreds of Bay Area students questioning their academic future.
South San Francisco resident Esther Howard was weeks shy of receiving an associate degree in medical assistance from Heald College when news of the school’s abrupt closure broke Sunday.

“It was heartbreaking because it was right there,” the 24-year-old said Wednesday outside of The City’s South of Market campus, one of 28 Corinthian Colleges sites that shut down less than two weeks after the U.S. Department of Education announced it was fining the for-profit institution $30 million for misrepresentation.

The closures include Heald College schools in California, Hawaii and Oregon, as well as Everest and WyoTech campuses in California, Arizona and New York. It is estimated that some 16,000 students are displaced, including hundreds in the Bay Area.

Instead of graduating next month as she had planned, Howard now intends to enroll at City College of San Francisco, a more affordable option she said will allow her credits to transfer anywhere.

She exited Heald’s campus Wednesday clutching materials from CCSF, one of about a dozen schools that set up tables inside Heald to offer education services to students this week.

“We’re here to help students at Heald that are affected by the closure. Our goal is to help make the transition as seamless as possible,” said Samuel Santos, vice president of student success and equity at CCSF.

Santos estimated the eight to 10 CCSF staff stationed at Heald would reach hundreds of stranded students Wednesday and today. Those providing help include counseling faculty, admissions and records technicians, counselors to help with applications and financial aid staff.

“Generally most of the programs that they have here, we have something similar or very closely related,” Santos said. “That doesn’t mean every class is going to transfer ... [but] we will help students figure out something that is very closely related.”

Still, Howard and 20-year-old Silvina Gutierrez — who was also preparing to receive an associate’s degree this semester from Heald — remain concerned about outstanding student loans and how many classes they will have to retake. “A lot of my credits aren’t transferable,” Howard said. “I’m basically starting most likely from nothing.”

Students who attend a school that closes while they are enrolled may be eligible to have their federal loans forgiven. The Education Department has estimated that forgiving the federal student loans for all the current students would cost taxpayers a maximum $214 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

About The Author

Laura Dudnick

Bio:
Laura Dudnick, a Bay Area native, covers education and planning for The San Francisco Examiner. She previously worked as a senior local editor for Patch.com, and as the San Mateo County bureau reporter and weekend editor for Bay City News Service.
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