You have rights: Contact the Office of Student Assistance and Relief for one-on-one help
A private college closure can be an experience filled with a lot of uncertainty, which can lead to a lot of stress and confusion on what to do next. DCA’s Office of Student Assistance and Relief (OSAR)—a branch of the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE)—has five steps to take if your private college or university closes:
- Consider all options—You have the right to continue your education at another school. A school closure disrupts students’ college plans, but it doesn’t have to put an end to them. There are hundreds of colleges across California that can help you reach your goals. In some cases, a teach-out with another school may allow you to complete your program at no additional costs. If you decide to transfer the credits earned from your closed school to another institution, your subsequent institution may perform a transcript evaluation to determine which credits from your former school are eligible for transfer. For assistance in finding a new institution, as well as information about how your choices impact your eligibility for financial relief (see below), check out OSAR’s “Researching Colleges” page or call (888) 370-7589 (option #5) to speak with an OSAR representative.
- Obtain student documents from your school—You have the right to request a copy of your student documents from your school. Regardless of which option you choose to pursue after the closure of your institution, it’s important to have copies of your student records and documents, including your enrollment agreement, transcripts, and student ledger. You should be able to provide proof that you were a former student of the institution and to show how much you have paid toward your education during your time of enrollment.
- Request a refund from your school—You have the right to request a refund from your school. Once you receive a copy of all of your student documents and records, the next step would be to contact your school to request for a refund of your tuition and all other expenses that you believe you are entitled to. The school may already have an official request form that students could simply fill out or you could request for your refund by writing a letter to the school. If the school does not have an official form and you are required to write a letter to request for your refund, make sure your name and contact information, the date of the letter, and refund request is stated clearly. Keep a copy of your refund request from the school in your personal records.
- Apply for the Student Tuition Recovery Fund—You have the right to request a reimbursement of your tuition from the Student Tuition Recovery Fund. The most prevalent state relief program is called the Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF), which is administered by DCA’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). OSAR staff will assist you in finding, understanding, and completing the STRF application, in locating your academic or financial records, and in identifying and compiling all the documentation necessary to confirm your maximum eligibility for STRF.
- Seek potential relief from federal agencies, if applicable. In addition to submitting a STRF application, students who received federal assistance to pay for college may also be entitled to federal loan discharges or reinstatement of federal benefits. Because rules around what types of costs can be reimbursed differ across programs, students can maximize their eligibility for relief by applying to more than one program. Federal assistance programs include:
If your private college or university closes, you are not alone. OSAR can help you every step of the way with free one-on-one counseling and assistance. Call OSAR toll-free at (888) 370-7589 (option #5), email firstname.lastname@example.org, and get more information and resources at OSAR’s website. For additional information on private postsecondary educational institutions, their regulation, and their requirements, visit www.bppe.ca.gov.