FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT/WYMT) - "My family, they want to know, 'When are you going to be finished with school? You've been going a long time,'" said Sarah Middleton, who has put up with that question for more than five years. In that time Middleton has worked online with Mid-Continent University for her Associate, Bachelors, and now her Master's Degrees.
"I was eight months away from finishing my master's degree in HR," she described, "It was right there in my hand and now it's gone."
That's because on Tuesday the school in Mayfield announced it was shutting down. Middleton said she learned from her professor who sent around an email explaining the situation.
"I didn't believe it at first. I had no idea what that meant, what that meant for me," she stated. After many questions came many emotions.
"It turned into anger, it turned into fear, it turned into a whole lot of different emotions because I have money on the line. I have my degree on the line."
Middleton is not alone, as roughly 2,000 students are now without a school. The University's faculty and staff are also no longer being paid and the school will officially shut down on June 30th. While there isn't much left, some teachers are sticking it out to finish teaching on a volunteer basis.
"It tells me they know how to hire the staff. They have all the right people, but I guess they couldn't keep their finances in line," reacted Middleton.
"We've been monitoring the situation for a couple of months. We knew they were in financial peril," stated Jack Conway, Kentucky's Attorney General.
Conway said the school has been placed on notice by the Federal Department of Education for the last several years.
"The students there, unfortunately, look like they'll be left holding the bag," continued Conway.
"To know that they knew this was coming and they still enrolled more students to be right in the middle of the program, it really says a lot," vented Middleton about the school's leadership.
For Middleton, the frustration only grows in what's becoming a hard lesson to handle.
"It makes me feel a little foolish," she answered, adding that she put her faith in this school only to be left in a jam. Still, she said she'll wait and see what happens next because this cannot be the end. Middleton is hopeful a school will accept her transfer and that somehow her financial aide can be restored.
"My office is closely monitoring this situation and is working with the Kentucky Council on Post Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education and MCU's accreditor, the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools (SACS) to ensure that every effort is made for students to graduate or finish out the semester on May 10," Conway explained Thursday. "If the school cannot meet its obligations to students, my Consumer Protection Division will work with students who may have concerns about the transfer of their credits to other institutions, their legal rights and student loans."
Conway also directed staff to send letters to administrators with MCU, informing them that they have an affirmative obligation to maintain all records during dissolution and that they are subject to criminal liability for the intentional destruction of any records.
The Office of the Attorney General has set up a website to assist students, and the website will be updated with the latest information available for students. For more information, visit www.ag.ky.gov/mcu. A dedicated hotline, 502-696-5485, has also been set up for students. Students may also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can follow Attorney General Conway on Twitter @kyoag, visit the Attorney General's Facebook page or view videos on our YouTube channel.