Financial woes close business institute

Newport Business Institute closed without notice earlier this week, leaving students with unanswered questions, but answers finally may be on the way.

The reason for the closure is a lack of money.

“Challenging economic times and restrictions on reimbursement and funding have contributed to their (the schools’) closure. All alternatives to closing the schools were actively pursued up to the very last minute possible,” Michelle Mullen, co-owner of the business institute, said in a prepared statement.

According to its website, the institute marked its 118th anniversary this year. A branch of the institute was located at 941 W. Third St.

Mullen said the school is working with the state Department of Education to come up with options and answers for the school’s former students.

“Under the direction of the Department of Education, staff members will be working closely with students to find alternative teaching locations for them,” Mullen said. “Information for students will be provided as it becomes available.

“At this time, our main focus is to gather information required to help the students,” she continued.

When contacted by the Sun-Gazette on Wednesday, Mullen said the decision to close the school was “heart-breaking.”

At the time of the closure, the school was in the middle of a semester. Students were left wondering not only what would become of their educational work, but the financial commitment they made to the school for their studies.

Mullen said rumors that students will lose the money they paid to the institute are false.

“That is false. They will get their money back,” she said.

Mullen said those who paid outright for the semester will be reimbursed. Grants and loans will be reinstated, she said.

Mullen confirmed, when asked, reports that students and staff were notified of the closure Monday without warning.

“Unfortunately, it was that,” she said of the way students were notified. “It came down to the school being stressed financially. … I really did not want to close the schools. They’re wonderful educational sites. The staff is wonderful.”

Former students of the school will receive letters from both the state Department of Education and Newport, laying out options to continue their education. Mullen said letters are expected to go out around the beginning of the new year.

Mullen encouraged former students who may be looking for answers to call the school’s corporate offices at 724-335-5336.