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Colleges are now closing at a pace of one a week. What happens to the students?

Colleges are now closing at a pace of one a week. What happens to the students?

The Hechinger Report

Jon Marcus
April 26, 2024
It was when the shuttle bus stopped coming that Luka Fernandes began to worry.
Fernandes was a student at Newbury College near Boston whose enrollment had declined in the previous two decades from more than 5,300 to about 600.
“Things started closing down,” Fernandes remembered. “There was definitely a sense of things going wrong. The food went downhill. It felt like they didn’t really care anymore.”
The private, nonprofit school had been placed on probation by its accreditors because of its shaky finances. Then the shuttle bus connecting the suburban campus with the nearest station on the public transportation system started running late or not showing up at all. “That was one of the things that made us feel like they were giving up.”
After students went home for their winter holiday, an email came: Newbury would shut down at the end of the next semester.
“It was, ‘Unfortunately we have to close after all these many years, and blah, blah, blah,’ ” said Fernandes, who was a junior. “I was very angry.”
The loans that students had taken out to pay the college weren’t forgiven, “which was infuriating. I had already put so much money into my education, and my family didn’t have that money. How am I going to apply this to my future if it doesn’t exist?”
This and other questions are on the minds of more and more students this spring as the pace of college closings dramatically speeds up.
About one university or college per week so far this year, on average, has announced that it will close or merge. That’s up from a little more than two a month last year, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, or SHEEO.
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