Missouri for-profit cosmetology college closes


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Dive Brief:

  • A small, for-profit cosmetology college in Missouri closed this week after more than 40 years in business. 
  • The Missouri College of Cosmetology North shut down permanently Monday, according to a message on the institution’s voicemail.
  • Its owner, Jeff Stanley, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, told local news media he will refund students for credits they had paid for but not yet earned. Stanley attributed the closure to the spread of the coronavirus and low enrollment numbers.

Dive Insight:

The institution, which typically goes by the Missouri College of Cosmetology, has seen enrollment fluctuate over the last decade. It eventually dropped from nearly 100 students in fall 2012 to just half of that in fall 2021, according to the latest available federal data.

It’s the type of small college pundits felt was at risk for closure as the pandemic stressed the economy, along with private nonprofit institutions that were heavily tuition dependent or financially shaky before the health crisis.

Policy experts have said infusions of federal coronavirus aid funding likely helped save some institutions that would have otherwise shut their doors. The Missouri cosmetology college received more than $102,000 from the initial pandemic spending package Congress passed in 2020. The law mandated the college spend half of the allocation on students.

It took in more than $84,000 from subsequent pieces of legislation, all earmarked for students.

This money could apparently not rescue the Missouri college from its financial straits. As of Thursday, its website and social media pages had disappeared.

The Missouri College of Cosmetology, located in Springfield, opened in 1981, and the current owners took it over more than a decade later. 

It became accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences in 2000.

The college was also one of several the U.S. Department of Education mistakenly included on a list of institutions whose students are in line to have their loans forgiven under a $6 billion settlement agreement. Students alleged those colleges had defrauded them.

The cosmetology college likely will not be the only for-profit institution to shutter this year. Bay State College, in Massachusetts, will have its accreditation yanked at the end of August amid accusations of financial mismanagement. 

This portends its closure, should the decision not be reversed, as institutions lacking accreditation cannot receive or distribute federal financial aid. Bay State is appealing to its accreditor, the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Bay State recently came under fire again after its landlord alleged it owes more than $725,000 in back rent and fees.


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