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Massachusetts congressional delegation seeks helps for students in the wake of for-profit institution’s sudden closure

WASHINGTON -- The Massachusetts congressional delegation on Friday asked the Department of Education and the Department of Veteran Affairs to help the 1,400 Bay State students abandoned by the sudden closure of American Career Institute, a for-profit technical school that had campuses in Framingham, Cambridge, Woburn, Springfield and Braintree, as well as in Maryland.

The institution closed its doors earlier in January without warning students, blaming the owners’ abrupt decision on their inability to secure additional credit from the school’s lenders.

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The delegation, led by Representative Edward Markey of Malden, also raised questions about the process used to accredit the institution and assess its financial health in a letter to the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training.

Students who had been enrolled in programs for allied health, digital media, information technology, software development and database administration suddenly had nowhere to turn because the school’s website and phone numbers stopped working.

In separate letters to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki, the delegation sought to ensure that the students would be able to continue their education elsewhere and that they would continue to have access to federal loans and grants.

Some students had just paid thousands of dollars to begin a new term, while others close to graduating worried they would never receive their certifications. The Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure is also investigating the defunct school and has agreed to help the students transition.

“The financial challenges of ACI should not negatively impact the students’ ability to graduate, succeed in the workforce, and build bright futures,” said the letter, which was signed by Senators John Kerry and Elizabeth Warren, and the state’s nine House representatives.

Tracy Jan can be reached at tjan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeTracyJan.
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