PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – The American Health Institute in Port Richey shut its doors suddenly and without notice two weeks ago sending about 50 career college students into a state of confusion about what to do next.
“Now I have to go to another school and waste another year of my life,” said former AHI student Tammy Rogers.
Many of the career college’s 49 students owe thousands in federal student loans and insist the credits they earned at AHI are non-transferable to a similar school. “Financially, I could lose up to 10,000 in loans,” said Michelle Wiesman. “I was here every day bringing in straight A’s and I’ve got nothing for it.”
AHI owner Rosa Shaw offered a written apology but little explanation when she shuttered the school located in a port Richey Strip Mall last month. Reached by telephone Monday Shaw was reluctant to discuss the school’s closing. “It’s a sad story,” said Shaw. “I have no comment on it.”
Shaw insisted she’s helping her former students even though half a dozen of them who gathered in front of the now defunct school’s locked doors Monday disagree.
“She’s the owner of the school she should know how to run her finances and make sure it’s running properly,” said former student Amber Mangold. “She let it go way too far before asking anyone for help.”
In her brief phone interview with Eight on Your Side, Shaw eventually claimed she’s the victim of embezzlement by former employees but didn’t want to get into specifics until consulting with her attorney.
“I wish I could do more,” Shaw said. “I’m losing everything.”
So are the former students at her career college who must now ask the Federal Department of Education for loan forgiveness if they can’t get other schools to accept their credits or “teach out” the remainder of the courses they need for certification as medical techs or LPN’s.
The Florida Commission for Independent Education is offering help for students trying to enroll in similar schools as well as giving them information on loan forgiveness.
But for some former students who pinned their hopes and dreams of a career on the American Heath Institute, the options seem bleak at best.
“I don’t have an extra $10,000,” said Mangold. “I’m pregnant and I have two kids I don’t have an extra $10,000 sitting around.”
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