VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Art Institutes system is closing all its campuses, including The Art Institute of Virginia Beach, for good.
The for-profit organization once had 50 campuses across the country. Now, its remaining eight locations, including the Virginia Beach campus in Town Center, are permanently closing. The Virginia Beach location is a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta.
The campuses and their online programs will end this Friday, impacting just around 3,000 students.
School officials say a combination of ownership changes and the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to close their doors.
In an announcement posted on their website, The Art Institutes encouraged current students to finish their education at another school, and noted that they’re working with partners to help students transfer.
Students we spoke to said the message was abrupt for both students and faculty. However, Individuals like Cierra Martin said they saw the writing on the wall.
"I've seen a steady decline over the past few years of good professors leaving," said Martin.
"The current teachers are in just as much in shock as we are because this was their livelihood," added student, Brandon Taylor. "They got fired on a Friday and don't have a job on Monday."
Brandon Taylor, a former photography student of the school said he wanted to earn a new career in photography after serving in the military. With one year of school left, he's now wondering if he can continue.
"It's emotional. I've been going to school here for over two years, and they don't know if our credits are going to transfer," said Taylor. "I'm just angry. Will my work count? Will it not? I have to start completely over,"
Another question among students like Cierra Martin is if and when their tuition money will return.
"Both of my parents are military veterans," explained Martin. "My dad gave me two years of his G.I bill. He split it between me in my brother. That's just gone now and now we're not sure if we are ever going to get that back."
Another question among students is if the graduated individuals will get that piece of paper they've been working towards.
"There are students who just graduated, and they are waiting on their diplomas," said Taylor.
In the email, the school said they'll be mailing the current students five official copies of their transcripts at no cost on or after October 1st. The students said it would be nice for further clarification to be mailed along with them.
News 3 reached out to the Art Institute for more details about this closure to figure out if students would be getting their money back. We have not received a response yet.