After seeing their campus abruptly close last month, students from Virginia College are being offered a chance to see if they may have a future at the University of West Florida.
Students, staff and faculty were all caught by surprise last month when the Education Corporation of American announced the immediate closing of all Virginia College campuses nationwide, including the location on Nine Mile Road in Pensacola. "Our heart goes out to these students" said Ethan Henley, the Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions at UWF. "We want to make sure we are doing everything that we can to support them."
That support will come together at a special Drop-In Transfer Day on Thursday, January 3, specifically aimed at helping Virginia College students complete their degrees. "We will take the opportunity to look at their transcripts, see exactly what credits that they have taken and see how that might apply here to a UWF degree program. We'll do that on a case by case basis because each student is going (to have a different situation), so we'll make sure to guide them correctly. And is UWF is not in the cards for them in the short term, we'll work with them and give them guidance and direction on what might be best for them individually."
The main reason Virginia College closed was that they lost their accreditation, but Henley says that some credits earned at Virginia College while the school was accredited should count towards a degree at UWF or other schools. "Primarily (the credits we) are looking for are general education requirements that have been completed through Virginia College. So your English Composition, your history, some of your lower level math courses, things like that (which) would apply to a degree track here."
This is not the first time a local campus for a national, for-profit college has been shut down. In 2016, ITT Tech also abruptly closed after sanctions from the Department of Education and questions about its accreditation. And on December 17, just two weeks after Virginia College was shut down, another for-profit college, Vatterott College told all its students and staff to gather their belongings and leave as all their campuses were closing that day. Vatterott does not have a local campus.
For students, the biggest question they have will likely be money. Ethan Henley says UWF’s financial aid department will work with students on a case by case basis. "We will work closely with our financial aid office to see what opportunities are there for these students so that we can provide the best financial aid package or assistance that we can to these students. Even on the front end with admissions, we will be working with them on waiving things like their application fee to reduce some of that initial, potential financial barrier for the students. But, again, financial aid will definitely take a look at them individually to see exactly what's possible."
The special drop in session for Virginia College students will be at Argo Central, a one-stop shop offering access to information pertaining to Admissions, Financial Aid, Financial Services and the Registrar’s Office. UWF enrollment counselors, admissions counselors, financial aid counselors and Complete Florida coaches will be available to answer questions anytime between 8 am and 5 pm on Thursday. Argo Central is located in building 18 on the UWF Pensacola campus.