Star Career Academy in New York, New Jersey announces closure

CLIFTON, New Jersey -- Star Career Academy, which has campuses in both New York and New Jersey, announced its closure on Tuesday.

In a statement, administrators said it would cease operations immediately and that all future classes were canceled.

Tuesday was to be a staff training day, administrators said, so no classes were scheduled.

Students were told not to report to campus.

"Star Career Academy's closing is the result of the negative financial impact of a continued declining student population while operating in the challenging for-profit post-secondary school industry," school officials said in a statement.

There are 1,000 students in three states who face uncertain futures. The school has campuses in Pennsylvania, too.

"Yesterday, we were informed not to come to school because they had a faculty meeting," said student Shannon Whitaker, of Lansdale. "Today, I woke up to a text message saying, basically, the school was closed. Don't return."

Many students were just days away from completing their courses, and some have thousands of dollars in student loans.

"$17,000 so far," Whitaker said. "Ten days from graduating."

"$18,000, and no way to get it back," student Matthew Dixon said. "And poured all this time into getting an education, and for what? For nothing now."

"They were still enrolling students, some of them came here," said Yasmin Ali, of Northeast Philadelphia. "They had appointments for them."

The students had no access to their transcripts, and no direction about what options they have.

"We haven't been able to speak to anyone from the school directly, they gave us a phone number that doesn't work," said student Betty Jimenez, outside one of the school's offices in Clifton, N.J. "We received an email just saying that the school had closed and they're sorry for the inconvenience and that's really all we know for now."

Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey tweeted that the school's closure was "very troubling".

According to published reports, Star Career Academy lost a class-action lawsuit for defrauding students back in 2015 and was ordered to pay more than $9 million plus court fees. It's unclear if that ruling impacted the school's bottom line and ability to operate.

The closure impacts all campuses operated by Star Academy, including the Culinary Academy of Long Island and ServFast Computers in Toms River, New Jersey.

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