IRVINE (CBSLA) – The oldest law school in Orange County could be forced to shut its doors because the company which owns the school has been placed in federal receivership.
Western State College of Law at Argosy University in Irvine, which first opened in 1966, is at risk of closing by the end of the month because the U.S. Department of Education is cutting off its federal student loan funding. The school has about 400 students.
Western State is owned by Los Angeles-based Dream Center Education Holdings. Dream Center was placed in federal receivership in January, which occurs when a company is unable to cover its debts.
The Dream Center owns the Art Institute and Argosy University. It has been forced to close dozens of its campuses nationwide, including the Art Institute of Hollywood and Argosy University Los Angeles. The Dream Center had only purchased the schools from Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corp. in 2017.
Western State’s Dean, Allen Easley, wouldn’t comment to CBS2 Thursday about a potential closure.
“I’m not authorized,” he responded bluntly when asked.
However, in an email, he told students that if the school closes by Friday, March 22, those who are about to graduate would have the credits needed to do so.
“I was speaking with a professor yesterday,” student Brad Johnson told CBS2. “And the only reason we didn’t close with those campuses last Friday, is we got a donor to kind of give us this gap money to keep us open for the next couple weeks, to hopefully try to get bought.”
Other students on campus Thursday told CBS2 that their student loan money has not come though.
“We haven’t been given any of our student loans, any of our stipends,” student Shannon Bustillos said. “A lot of us are out of money, out of food, can’t pay their rent. A lot of people have mortgages to pay, kids to take of. Basically, the school hasn’t really given us any indication as to what is happening.”
Western State is approved by the American Bar Association. According to its website, 150 California judges are alumni of the school, along with 15 percent of O.C. public defenders and district attorneys.