KILLEEN, Texas — Students at Vista College were left with plenty of questions and few answers after the college abruptly closed its doors on Oct. 8.
The school sent out a statement to students and staff last Friday announcing the closure of all its campuses, and cited financial circumstances as the reason.
The sudden closure left students wondering how or if they could somehow transfer to another school to finish their degrees, but it hasn't been easy with calls to the college going unanswered.
The Texas Workforce Commission, which reportedly regulates the college along with more than 600 others, told 6 News that schools typically inform them "well ahead of time" when they plan to close so a transition plan can be put in place. However, TWC said it was not informed of the Vista College closure.
"Typically, when a school closes, they inform TWC and our service area managers work with them to address these issues and provide assistance to students and employees," the commission said in an email to 6 News. "We are reaching out to Vista College to initiate this process at this time. Whether or not the school responds, TWC will be a committed advocate on behalf of students and employees."
The TWC said it would:
- Work with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to ensure the transfer of transcripts to the Board and the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) to ensure veterans benefits are credited.
- Work with other schools in the area that provide similar coursework and, if possible, facilitate “teach outs” that allow students to complete coursework.
- Work to help students recover lost tuition as well as possible, within statutory limits established by Texas Education Code
Many students still need their transcript so they can see if other colleges are an option at this time. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges told 6 News students can try to get a transcript using the National Student Clearinghouse transcript and data exchange services website.
6 News also reached out to Texas A&M University Central Texas and Texas State Technical College to find out if classes in the program could be transferred.
TAMUCT Associate Professor of Higher Education Morgan Lewing told 6 News the transcripts may not match up depending on how Vistal College is accredited.
"The accreditation piece is really important when they transfer so they will need to refer back to some of the paperwork they have signed, in regard in trying to get their transcripts," Lewing said. "The tricky part is going to be what will transfer... For-profit institutions and similar institutions are going to have accrediting agencies that are different than Temple College or Central Texas College."
6 News found out Tuesday, TAMUCT, Temple College, Central Texas College and Texas State Technical College are all accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Vista College, however, is not. According to Vista College's website, it is accredited instead by the Council on Occupational Education.
While the difference in crediting agencies could lead to an issue in transferring credit for classes, Texas State Technical College told 6 News Tuesday they would try to accommodate any students they could.
"I would say that we welcome them to TSTC and do our best to align what they have learned in their programs into ours and get them back on track to getting them into a great-paying job." TSTC's Senior Executive Director of Enrollment Management Marcus Crook said.
Vista College has campuses in Beaumont, Longview, College Station and El Paso. Those campuses have also shut down.