SAN JOSE -- The financially troubled BioHealth and Bryman colleges permanently closed their doors Monday, leaving about 280 students with nothing but incomplete transcripts.
"All the time that we put in, all our effort coming to class, everything we did -- it's like it never happened," said Priscilla Burlison, who attended Bryman College in San Jose.
The career college company based in San Jose offered health care certificate programs at five campuses in San Jose, Hayward, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy July 18.
On Monday morning, students met with representatives from the state Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education to collect their transcripts and hear about their financial aid and refund options.
The students have no guarantee that their credits will transfer to another institution, which means they could have to start over.
One student said she was wary of a repeat performance.
"It's left a bad taste in my mouth," said Jennifer Cortes-Morales, two months into her pharmacology program at BioHealth College. "Is the next school going to do this?"
Although they won't be able to recoup lost time, BioHealth and Bryman students will be entitled to full federal loan forgiveness -- and, if applicable, refunds for private loans, books and other educational expenses from California's Student Tuition Recovery Fund, said Russ Heimerich, a spokesman for the Department of Consumer Affairs and the state's college oversight bureau.
Heimerich said Monday morning he did not believe the company arranged for students to complete their programs at the school or other schools through what is known as a "teach-out." The agencies that accredited BioHealth and Bryman require such a plan but have little leverage to enforce it, said William Larkin, director of the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training.
Numerous phone calls to the college administration went unanswered Monday, and founder Sam Shirazi did not respond to interview requests last week. The company's financial troubles came to light in May, when Bryman students arrived to see eviction notices on their former San Jose campus. Its landlord said the company owed $82,000 in rent.
In early 2013, BioHealth -- a small school Shirazi started in 2003 -- bought four Everest College campuses from another operator, Corinthian Colleges Inc. and renamed them Bryman. In an unusual arrangement, BioHealth received $2.3 million to acquire the schools, according to a Corinthian Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
Corinthian, which owns the Heald, Everest and WyoTech chains, is also shutting down and plans to sell 85 of its 97 remaining U.S. campuses, including all of its locations in California.
Burlison said she and her classmates had made sacrifices to further their training, attending school early in the morning or late at night -- in some cases, while working and raising children. Now, she said, they are wondering what to do next.
"It's frustrating," she said. "I don't know how the state of California allows these schools to stay open knowing that they have financial problems and are just full of it."
Follow Katy Murphy at Twitter.com/katymurphy.