FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA / KFTA) – A local trade school closed abruptly earlier this month, leaving students to look elsewhere to continue their education.
Vista Colleges permanently closed all of its ground and online campuses, including the one right here in Fort Smith, on Friday, October 8. The students received an email telling them that the school had closed with very little notice. He said the closure was due to financial reasons. There is now a class action lawsuit against the college.
Now the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith wants to help. It strives to help affected students determine the next steps in their education and career, whether at UAFS or at another school.
The university is hosting an information and assistance session on Wednesday. It takes place from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the UAFS, College of Business and Industry Latture Conference. There is a virtual and in-person option. Click here for the virtual option.
There will be representatives there to discuss registration, financial aid, UAFS programs, tests and more.
âStudents can present their past experience and if it’s the right experience and they can demonstrate the learning outcomes, maybe get prior learning creditsâ¦ So there are a variety of options. None of them will suit everyone, but we’ll try to find something, âLee Krehbiel, vice-chancellor for student affairs and registrations.
The application fees are waived for those who register with UAFS.
Krehbiel says it’s important to note that Vista College is not regionally accredited, so credits will not transfer directly to UAFS. However, he says there are options. For example, students can earn prior learning credits through a course exam.
Krehbiel says their enrollment staff strive to meet the unique needs of Vista College alumni
“We have a few programs where students can get short-term training towards a degree that can lead to good jobs. We also have partners statewide in community colleges and some of their programs may align more closely with some of these studentsâ¦ So we’re happy to make referrals, âKrehbiel said.
There will also be counseling staff there to refer students who may be struggling right now to mental health resources.
The UAFS is also offering scholarships of $ 500 to displaced students who register in January to help them ease the transition.
Vista College made the difficult decision to shut down all ground campuses as well as the online campus. Vista College is grateful for the hundreds of skilled and dedicated employees as well as the thousands of students and graduates.
Vista College is in the process of providing data to the appropriate state agencies and upon completion, students will be able to obtain transcripts from their state agency:
- Arkansas: Arkansas Department of Education
- New Mexico: New Mexico Department of Higher Education
- Texas / Online: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Council
Student transfer options
Students are encouraged to consider all of the options for graduating. We have contacted the following schools that have similar programs and have provided these institutions with details of the Vista College program that can help transfer students.
You must meet the admission requirements of each establishment and the
the determination of transfer credit is at the discretion of the receiving institution. There may be other colleges and schools that you could contact for additional opportunities.
- BBOLM College of Cosmetology
- Blinn College
- Central College of Texas
- College of Health Professionals
- Kilgore College
- Pathway Professional Academy
- Penn foster
- PIMA Medical Institute
- American National University
- Western Technical College
Student loan release information
Important notice if you have a federal student loan:
If your school closes while you are enrolled or shortly after your withdrawal, you may be eligible for the release of your federal student loan. The loan discharge is the removal of your obligation to repay your loan under certain circumstances.
There are certain eligibility requirements to be eligible for a closed school loan discharge; you must apply for a waiver.
It is important that you get your academic and financial aid records if your school closes, as you may need these records if you plan to attend another school or if you want your student loans canceled.
Loan release criteria
You may be eligible for a 100% discharge of your William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program (Direct Loan) loans, Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL) loans, or Federal Perkins loans if you could not complete your program because your school closed, and if:
- you were registered when your school closed;
- you were on leave of absence when your school closed;
- your school closed within 120 days of your withdrawal, if your loans were first disbursed before July 1, 2020; Where
- your school closed within 180 days of your withdrawal, if your loans were first disbursed on or after July 1, 2020.
You are not eligible to release your loans if your school closes and any of the following conditions are true:
- Except in exceptional circumstances, you withdrew more than 120 days before the school closed, if your loans were first paid before July 1, 2020; Where
- Unless there are exceptional circumstances, you have withdrawn more than 180 days before the school closes, if your loans were first disbursed on or after July 1, 2020.
- You follow a comparable educational program:
- through an apprenticeship,
- by transferring academic credits or hours earned at the closed school to another school, or
- by any other comparable means.
- You have completed all courses in the program before school closes, even if you did not receive a diploma or certificate.
For more information on federal loan discharge, go to: