- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2002

BALTIMORE A computer-training company has suddenly shut its doors here and in several other states, leaving stranded students who have paid thousands of dollars in fees.
AmeriTrain Inc., which is headquartered in Philadelphia, abruptly closed its school in Columbia, Md., drawing the attention of the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
The commission on Tuesday ordered the school to reimburse students for fees paid for courses not given. Some students got Sallie Mae loans to pay as much as $10,000 for courses.
AmeriTrain's schools in Tysons Corner, Atlanta, and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., also are closed because they are "relocating," according to the company's Web site.
Judy Hendrickson, director of academic affairs at MHEC, said the school's claims that it was relocating its classrooms violated state requirements that it get approval from the state before it moves its facilities.
AmeriTrain officials could not be reached for comment.
Miss Hendrickson estimated that AmeriTrain's Columbia school has about three dozen students.
Thomas Brainsky of Owings Mills went to the school on Monday to begin a networking class. He found the doors locked and no school officials available.
"I went ballistic," Mr. Brainsky, 25, said. He had gotten an $11,500 loan, with AmeriTrain's help, through a local bank in June.
Michael Higgins, 41, of Elkridge said he was laid off from AT&T; in February, and after researching computer-training programs in the area, selected AmeriTrain. "It presented a more professional appearance," he said.
Mr. Higgins got a Sallie Mae loan to pay $10,525 for two nine-week courses. He said his second course, which was supposed to start in July, kept being postponed.
"By August, I couldn't get in touch with anyone" at the school, Mr. Higgins said.
He added that his brother, who also enrolled at the school, had five different instructors in five weeks, and the school never finished his course.
The MHEC is notifying lenders of the need to provide financial relief to students whose training never began or was interrupted.
"There are consumer protections in place to help students affected by this school closure," Miss Hendrickson said. "We will do all that we can to assist these students."
Mr. Brainsky said, "I just want my money back."

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