NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side has learned the Regency Beauty Institute suddenly closed all of its nearly 80 locations across the country, including the campus near Patrick Henry Mall in Newport News.
On Wednesday, the Regency Beauty Institute operated the same as any day.
“It was a good day. Then we came home, and it all went downhill from there,” student Shannon Pate said.
Shock can’t begin to describe how she felt when she found out all of the schools had closed. Shannon and around 60 others lost their education and their money in a night.
“I paid $20,000 to go here and I didn’t even get to finish,” she said. “I was supposed to take my final exam today.”
It was a feeling shared by everyone who came to the school on Thursday.
“I literally quit my full-time job to come here,” Cherise Jackson said. “I paid for $20,000 financial aid.”
On its website, Regency Beauty Institute said declining enrollment and declining federal dollars led to its closing.
Thursday, the students got to go in and clear out their lockers. They took supplies and leaned on one another for support, in an uncertain future.
10 On Your Side talked to a woman who graduated from the cosmetology school in early September.
Raneisha Parker says she’s worried about paying back her student loans since the school closed. Parker says she got an automated phone call Wednesday night saying the school is no longer in business.
The cosmetology school, which has operated for more than 50 years, posted the following statement online:
How did this happen? In short, the organization does not have the cash to continue to run the business. There are multiple intertwined reasons: declining numbers of cosmetology students nationwide, a negative characterization of for-profit education by regulators and politicians that continues to worsen and, in light of these factors, an inability to obtain continued financing.
“This is not another case of a school being forced to shut down because it was accused of wrongdoing. We held ourselves to high educational and ethical standards. The environment is simply not one that allows us to remain open. We diligently explored a range of strategic options that would benefit our students, teachers, and staff — and allow us to remain open. Unfortunately, those efforts were not successful.”
Parker says she and several other students and graduates plan to rally at the Newport News location Thursday at noon.
The Virginia School of Hair Design, located in Hampton, has offered to take students from Regency Beauty Institute. The school is holding an open house on October 17.
Another for-profit school, ITT Technical Institute, recently closed all of its campuses, forcing students to find new schooling.
10 On Your Side will continue to dig deeper to get more information about this developing story.