160 Alpine College students got a few more answers Tuesday about what will happen to their tuition money after the school closed without warning on Monday.
The good news is that it's possible the students may get at least some of the tuition money back. The state board that oversees for-profit colleges was in town Tuesday talking to the students and is giving them some answers, but students had maybe a bigger question:
How legitimate are these for-profit schools?
"Just because of what happened at Alpine does not mean that all the other for-profits are bad organizations," Cami Miller, an employee at Alpine College, said Tuesday.
Miller, like every other Alpine College employee, lost her job without warning last Friday, and she's ticked about the way it happened.
"I was probably the most hysterical in there," she said.
Miller says this shouldn't overshadow the work Alpine's done for a decade and it shouldn't cast a shadow on other for-profit colleges.
"That's not fair to them, people can't judge other places based on what happened at Alpine," she said.
But with 250 for-profit colleges in Washington some are concerned. Tuition, for example, is on average 5 times higher at for-profit schools than at public schools offering similar training. Additionally, if students later want to transfer or get additional education, traditional schools simply won't accept their credits.
"We feel bad for what happened to those students, it didn't have to happen this way," David Wilson, owner and president of Interface College in Spokane, said.
Interface has around 150 students and has been in business since 1983.
"It sheds a bad light on the sector and it's not fair," Wilson added.
In fact, placement rates at many for-profits exceeds placement rates at community colleges. Wilson insists that there is a place for for-profit education in the system.
"We're very highly regulated, I don't think the system is broken, this is a case where the school owner made a very bad choice to close the school without notice," Wilson said.
For-profit colleges like Alpine have to be re-licensed every year by the state. Alpine was re-licensed in March and at the time the state saw no problems with their finances at that time.