- Associated Press - Thursday, November 3, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The for-profit Heritage College with 10 vocational campuses across eight states has closed abruptly, citing financial problems and decreased demand for its services.

Heritage College’s website said its campuses were permanently closed as of Tuesday. The business was established in 1986 and advertised training for careers in medical, dental and veterinary assistance; massage therapy; fitness training; and esthetics.

The campuses were in suburban Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Fort Myers and Jacksonville, Florida; Lake Forest, California; Little Rock, Arkansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Oklahoma City; and Wichita, Kansas, according to the website.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many students were enrolled at Heritage when it closed. Calls Thursday to its offices at Weston Educational Inc. in Denver were answered by a voicemail system that wasn’t accepting messages.

Students at the Columbus campus found a note taped to the door announcing it had closed Tuesday. Student Kimi Boyce told WBNS-TV that she anticipated graduating on Nov. 18, and now she’s out $12,000 and wasn’t sure if she will even receive a diploma.

“Can you imagine paying thousands of dollars and having nothing to show for it?” Boyce said.

The closure comes as some of the largest for-profit colleges have faced steep enrollment declines, growing competition, new regulation and government pressure, prompting some to also close.

One of the largest chains, ITT Technical Institute, shut down its 130 U.S. campuses, saying it couldn’t survive recent federal sanctions amid what it called a “regulatory assault.” ITT’s accreditor had reported the chain failed to meet several basic standards, and ITT was investigated over allegations of misleading students about the quality of programs.

Heritage College attributed its closure to a lack of cash and said the decision wasn’t forced by regulators or due to any wrongdoing on its part.

Two former employees have alleged Heritage altered attendance and grade records to maximize its funding, and a recent federal appeals court ruling allowed their case to proceed. An advertising firm in Lenexa, Kansas, also recently sued Weston Educational over about $444,000 in unpaid invoices, The Kansas City Star reported.

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