Over 100 students and more than a dozen instructors were left wondering what their next step was last week when Marinello Schools of Beauty closed down its Visalia location.
Students and faculty were ushered out of the school on Mooney Boulevard on Feb. 4 as security guards turned away people trying to enter the building. In a letter to students on its web site, Marinello announced it would be “ceasing operations” at 56 campuses in California, Nevada, Utah, Connecticut and Kansas.
“We know that this has been a hard week with a lot of rumors circulating, and we want you to know that we truly care about you and your future. We continue to make our best effort to help in this difficult time,” read the letter signed by Marinello chairman and CEO Rashed Elyas.
The closures were the result of the U.S. Department of Education’s Feb. 1 action to end the participation in the federal student financial assistance programs of 23 Marinello Schools of Beauty (Marinello) campuses in Nevada and California.
Investigations by the Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) uncovered serious violations within both institutions. The Department determined that Marinello was knowingly requesting federal aid for students based on invalid high school diplomas, underawarding Title IV aid to students, charging students for excessive overtime, and engaging in other acts of misrepresentation.
“Our students depend on higher education institutions to prepare them for careers through a quality education. Unfortunately, some schools violate their trust through deceptive marketing practices and defraud taxpayers by giving out student aid inappropriately. These unscrupulous institutions use questionable business practices or outright lie to both students and the federal government,” said Under Secretary Ted Mitchell. “In these cases we are taking aggressive action to protect students and taxpayers from further harm by these institutions.”
The entire Marinello school chain – with 56 campuses across the nation – received more than $87 million in Pell Grants and federal loans for the 2014–15 award year, according to the Department. Marinello alluded to the department’s action in its letter to students and staff saying, “We want you to know that we did everything in our power to avoid this unfortunate conclusion and keep your school open. Unfortunately, the Department of Education’s unprecedented and unfounded actions left us with no other option except to close our schools.”
The department is denying pending recertification applications for five Marinello locations covering 23 campuses in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Moreno Valley, Calif. and Burbank, Calif. with about 2,100 active students. In addition, the Department previously placed all Marinello schools on Heightened Cash Monitoring 2, which is a step taken by FSA to provide additional oversight of institutions to safeguard taxpayer dollars.
Marinello CEO Elyas stated in the letter that the institution is “well into the process of arranging partnerships with other schools that would enable you to complete your coursework.” The letter goes on to state that Marinello will be hosting meetings on campuses this week for students to obtain all of the necessary paperwork and information “to help you understand how you can continue your education either through our partnerships with other schools or through another channel. At this meeting, students will receive official transcripts, proof of training, financial aid transcripts, state contacts, and other important materials.
“Representatives of the state agencies in California, Nevada and Connecticut will be present at these meetings to explain your rights and the options available to you,” the letter stated.
Locally, the meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the Visalia campus, located at 2335 S. Mooney Blvd. Marinello said those who are unable to attend will be mailed the information to the home address on file with the school. The web site also gives the students the option to update their mailing information by submitting it via email to email@example.com.
“Our staff has been so helpful in the face of this adversity, so please do not be upset with anyone working at our campuses,” Elyas stated in the letter. “We all want to come together to get through this very difficult situation.”
The letters to the Marinello schools and CSI provide an opportunity for the institutions to submit factual evidence to dispute the department’s findings. The Marinello schools have until Feb. 16, 2016, to submit such evidence; CSI has until Feb. 12, 2016, to do so. If submitted evidence causes the department to change its determination, the schools could be able to continue participating in the federal financial aid programs.
For more information about last week’s action, please visit StudentAid.gov/sa/about/announcements/marinello.