Bay Area nursing college shuts down

February 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Hundreds of Bay Area college students just cannot believe it. Their promising new careers are suddenly in jeopardy. The Oakland and San Jose nursing students paid thousands of dollars to a school that wasn't legitimate, so now they have wasted their time and their money. It was the training they needed to get out of their dead-end jobs in this struggling economy.

About 300 students at the Institute of Medical Education were paying $25,000 to $30,000 for training to be MRI and ultra sound technicians.

"I mean, this is very important, especially for me and my family," said Michael Untalasco, a student.

Others were studying to be nursing assistants and dental hygienists. But state regulators are shutting down their hopes for a better future because it says the school falsely advertised its accreditation.

"I am very, very upset. I only had like two weeks of school left," said Kimberly Davis, a student.

It comes as a shock because the students were told their programs were accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, also known as WASC. However, a spokesperson for the California Department of Consumer Affairs says several programs under WASC were never recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

"I'm put down and actually hurt. Very important. It was the next stepping stone to broaden my personal and professional life," said Alex Guilen, a student.

In late January a red flag was raised. The school told its students it was no longer receiving federal financial aid, but it still encouraged them to keep paying out of pocket.

"They told us on Monday, I got a phone call saying I needed to make a payment today or I was going to be dropped. They say I owed them at least $1,900," said Davis.

The program manager for the Institute of Medical Education, Khoi Lam, sent out a letter of encouragement saying, "Despite the loss of Title IV Federal Financial Aid, your resolution to continue your education speaks volumes to me... I can assure that your decision will not be in vain."

Without accreditation the State Department of Consumer Affairs says the dental hygienists will not be able to take their state board exams. However, there is a way to recover the tuition and the state workers say they will be on the Oakland campus and the one in San Jose Thursday morning when they shut the schools down for good.


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