OAKDALE, Long Island (WABC) --Students at Dowling College waited in long lines for their transcripts Wednesday after the school announced it was closing at the end of the week.
The small liberal arts college on eastern Long Island has been struggling to survive for several years, and President Albert Inserra said negotiations over the past few months aimed at finding an academic partner to keep it afloat had failed.
"This painful decision is a reflection of the unprecedented financial challenges facing countless private educational institutions across the nation and the difficult choices that many must now face," he said Tuesday in a statement. A New York Board of Regents official said Dowling is about $54 million in debt.
Classes at Dowling had already ended for the spring semester, and some students tweeted about the long waits:
Students at Dowling College waiting in line for hours to get transcripts before school closes down Friday pic.twitter.com/FQ1IEbbTGP— Kristin Thorne (@KristinThorne) June 1, 2016
"It's really upsetting," student Rebecca Sapan said. "You thought you were going to go somewhere and finish, and now you don't even have a choice. They're just saying goodbye and closing their doors."
After being in debt for years, officials of the 48-year-old institution announced they would be closing their doors this Friday.
"I just want to cry," student Danielle Slater said. "I have a daughter. I have a career I'm supposed to be starting."
She's just one of some 2,500 students trying to figure out what to do next.
"I'm supposed to be graduating in December, now I have to figure out how I can graduate because every program is different in different schools," another student said. "So only God knows how much money I'm going to have to spend now to go to another school."
But late Wednesday afternoon, there was a bit of good news for students, as Suffolk County Community College announced it is ready to help.
"Suffolk Community College has waived their application fee, $40 application fee, for all Dowling students wishing to attend college," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. "The college will also defer transcript and immunizations for Dowling students."
Suffolk County CC has a hotline for Dowling students, with admissions and financial aid counselors standing by at 631-451-4111. Suffolk Community College will also hold a transfer fair for Dowling students on June 9.
Anyone employed by Dowling College who is now without a job can contact the Suffolk County Department of Labor at 631-853-6517.
Additionally, Farmingdale State College has scheduled Transfer Information Sessions on Tuesday, June 7, and Thursday, June 9, at 2 p.m. in the Roosevelt Hall Tour Room. Space is limited, and students may register in advance at Farmingdale.edu/transfer.
Founded in 1968 by the philanthropist Robert Dowling, the college had two campuses on eastern Long Island. Its main home was in Oakdale on property once owned by the Vanderbilt family. It had schools of arts and sciences, aviation, education and business.