Virginia College, LLC and its operator Education Corporation of America (ECA) are facing a proposed class action lawsuit over the school’s loss of accreditation and subsequent closure, which the plaintiffs say have caused all manner of problems for current and former students.
According to the complaint, ECA formerly operated more than 75 campuses throughout the United States, including Virginia College locations in Alabama and Georgia. Virginia College and ECA were accredited by the Accrediting Counsel for Independent Colleges and Schools until the defendants’ standing was suspended on December 4, 2018, the case states, due in large part to concerns over student outcomes and the school’s ability to meet financial obligations. This loss of accreditation, the lawsuit says, cut the school off from federal funding and student loans and left ECA “unable to acquire additional capital to operate [its] schools.” The very next day, ECA announced that it would close more than 70 of its nationwide campuses by the end of the month, including Virginia College.
As a result of ECA’s loss of accreditation and subsequent closure, the suit claims, students struggled to complete their degrees elsewhere since credits earned at Virginia College could not transfer to accredited schools. Furthermore, the case states that alumni who completed their degrees at Virginia College found that they had wasted tuition money on diplomas that were now valueless.
The lead plaintiff claims that he enrolled in Virginia College’s online program and took out student loans to finance his education, with the hope of earning a degree that would help him obtain meaningful and gainful employment. The plaintiff states that he was promised free access to the defendants’ career services office and that the college would assist him with placement services after graduation. Unfortunately, Virginia College closed before the plaintiff could graduate, the case says, and the man claims he was left without these promised services and instead with a connection to a “failed and dysfunctional school which seriously decreases his chances of obtaining meaningful employment.”
According to the case, ECA and Virginia College’s failure to maintain accreditation constitutes negligence and breach of contract since the defendants had a duty to provide class members with courses designed to allow students to complete a degree from an accredited school and failed to do so.
The suit was originally filed in the State Court of Gwinnett County, Georgia but has since been removed to the Northern District of Georgia.