SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Students at a University of Phoenix campus in downtown San Francisco have less than a month to figure out where and how they’ll finish their education.

The for-profit school, one of the nation’s largest, has announced it’s closing its learning center at 1 Front Street on Friday, July 13, 2012. It’s a decision, some students say, caught them off guard.

“I was told when I got here I was going to stay here all four years,” said Carolina Sanchez, a criminal justice student from San Francisco.

“(I’m) super surprised, super surprised,” said student Mike Kirkpatrick of San Francisco.

While Kirkpatrick plans to finish his business degree at the school’s campus in downtown Oakland or on-line, Sanchez said she and her friends are scrambling to figure out what they’ll do next.

“Some of them are upset. Some of them are trying to find different schools. Some are just going to drop out,” Sanchez told ConsumerWatch.

“It’s a major setback for these students,” said Debbie Cochrane of The Institute for College Access & Success, a Oakland-based group that aims to help more students attend college.

Cochrane said students at most for-profit schools have few protections when a campus closes. But, there is one notable exception. Cochrane said students with federal student loans who opt not to finish their education at the school’s other campuses or on-line can apply to have their loans forgiven.

“When a school closes an entire campus, students can petition the Department of Education to have their federal loans discharged, so any loans they would have incurred to attend that campus, they would not have to repay,” Cochrane told ConsumerWatch.

Students who withdraw from a school 90 days prior to its closing, are also considered eligible for discharge of their federal student loans if they, too, opt not to continue their education at a different campus.

There are more details at the Department of Education’s website.

The University of Phoenix wouldn’t respond to our inquiries why it was closing the downtown San Francisco campus. The school did send us a statement saying it makes decisions “based on the educational needs of its students.” It also said students can continue to take courses at its other Bay Area locations or on-line.

Student Carolina Sanchez said, despite reservations about traveling to the school’s Oakland campus, she’ll persevere in her quest for a degree.

“I’m gonna have to find a way,” she said.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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