HARTFORD, Conn. – A private Connecticut-based broadcasting school with campuses in more than a dozen states abruptly shut down this week and said Thursday it will seek bankruptcy protection.
The Connecticut School of Broadcasting blamed its financial woes on a tightening of the private student loan market. Tuition for 16-week courses is as much as $12,000.
"I am extremely disappointed that, after 44 years of operations, CSB will not be able to fulfill its mission of providing a quality education to students interested in working in the broadcast industry," school president David Banner said. "I am also disappointed that the actions of our lender precipitated this sudden disruption in the lives and careers of our students and employees."
The school has 26 locations in 16 states.
The school said it was surprised that its lender, Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial, seized control of the school's accounts and froze them as it was attempting to find other ways to fund the business.
In a statement, the school said it would "promptly seek protection under applicable insolvency laws."
PNC spokesman Fred Solomon said the company does not discuss its customers or their accounts because of bank confidentiality rules.
PNC recently acquired Cleveland's troubled National City Corp. and last week slashed its quarterly dividend by 85 percent. Its stock was down more than 12 percent Thursday, trading under its 52-week low $20.33.
At the school's Farmington location, students say they found out by text message Wednesday night while others showing up for class found the doors locked.
Tracy Miller, a January graduate, said she was upset about losing the lifetime job placement help and studio privileges that the school agreed to in the contract she signed. She also was angry because radio demos she recorded for potential employers were on computers inside the locked school.
"I just want some answers. I'm in the dark right now," said Miller, 22, of Plainville.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Thursday his office was looking into the closure, including whether school officials kept taking money from students when they knew it would be shut down.
The office will seek tuition refunds for students if it finds any violations of law, Blumenthal said.
The state Department of Higher Education was also seeking refunds and options for students to complete their studies.
The school was founded in Farmington in 1964 by a Hartford broadcaster, Dick Robinson. Robinson and his family want to reopen the broadcast school under a different name at that location.
The family said in a letter posted at the school that they plan to apply for a state license to teach media and communications, and will be contacting students to help them complete their studies at no additional cost.