FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A local trade school closed abruptly earlier this month leaving students to look elsewhere to continue their education.
Vista Colleges permanently closed all of its ground and online campuses including the one right here in Fort Smith, Friday October 8. Students received an email telling them the school shut down with very little notice. It stated the closure was because of financial reasons. There’s now a class-action lawsuit filed against the college.
Now, the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith wants to help. It is working to assist students impacted figure out the next steps in their education and careers whether it is with UAFS or another school.
The university is hosting an information and assistance session, Wednesday. It’s happening from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Latture Conference of UAFS, College of Business and Industry. There is a virtual and in-person option. Click here for virtual option.
There will be representatives there to discuss enrollment, financial aid, UAFS programs, testing and more.
“Students can portfolio their past experience and if it’s the right experience and they can demonstrate learning outcome, perhaps get credit from prior learning… So there are a variety of options. No one of them will fit everyone but we’ll try to find something,” Lee Krehbiel, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment.
The application fee is being waived for those who enroll to UAFS.
Krehbiel says it’s important to note that Vista College is not regionally accredited, so credits will not transfer directly to UAFS. However, he says there are options. For example, students can earn prior learning credit through a course exam.
Krehbiel says their enrollment staff is working to meet the unique needs of the former vista college students
“We have a couple of programs where students may be able to get short-term training toward a credential that can lead to good jobs. We also have partners around the state in community colleges and some of their programs may line up more closely with some of these students… So we are happy to make referrals,” said Krehbiel.
There will also be counseling staff there to connect students who may be struggling right now to mental health health resources.
UAFS is also offering $500 scholarships to displaced students who enroll this January to help ease them into the transition.
Vista Colleges are Permanently Closed
Vista College has made the difficult decision to close all ground campuses as well as the online campus. Vista College is thankful for the hundreds of skilled and dedicated employees as well as the thousands of students and graduates.
Vista College is in the process of providing data to the appropriate state agencies and once complete students will be able to obtain transcripts from their state agency:
- Arkansas: Arkansas Department of Education
- New Mexico: New Mexico Higher Education Department
- Texas/Online: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Student Transfer Options
Students are encouraged to consider all options to complete your degree. We have reached out to the following schools that offer similar programs and we have provided these institutions with Vista College Program details that may assist transfer students.
You are required to meet each institution’s admission requirements and the
determination of transfer credit is at the discretion of the receiving institution. There may be other Colleges and Schools that you could contact for additional opportunities.
- BBOLM College of Cosmetology
- Blinn College
- Central Texas College
- College of Health Care Professionals
- Kilgore College
- Pathway Vocational Academy
- Penn Foster
- PIMA Medical Institute
- National American University
- Western Technical College
Student Loan Discharge Information
Important notice if you have a Federal student loan:
If your school closes while you’re enrolled or soon after you withdraw, you may be eligible for discharge of your federal student loan. Loan discharge is the removal of your obligation to repay your loan under certain circumstances.
There are certain eligibility requirements to qualify for a closed school loan discharge; you must apply to get a discharge.
It’s important for you to obtain your academic and financial aid records if your school closes, since you might need those records if you plan to attend another school or want your student loans discharged.
Loan Discharge Criteria
You may be eligible for a 100 percent discharge of your William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program loans, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans, or Federal Perkins Loans if you were unable to complete your program because your school closed, and if:
- you were enrolled when your school closed;
- you were on an approved leave of absence when your school closed;
- your school closed within 120 days after you withdrew, if your loans were first disbursed before July 1, 2020; or
- your school closed within 180 days after you withdrew, if your loans were first disbursed on or after July 1, 2020.
You are not eligible for discharge of your loans if your school closes and any of the following is true:
- Except in exceptional circumstances, you withdrew more than 120 days before the school closed, if your loans were first disbursed before July 1, 2020; or
- Except in exceptional circumstances, you withdrew more than 180 days before the school closed, if your loans were first disbursed on or after July 1, 2020.
- You are completing a comparable educational program:
- through a teach-out,
- by transferring academic credits or hours earned at the closed school to another school, or
- by any other comparable means.
- You completed all the coursework for the program before the school closed, even if you did not receive a diploma or certificate.
For more information on Federal loan discharge, go to: