LANCASTER, Pa. --- It's been roughly three and a half years since the American Beauty School of Lancaster closed up shop.
The ramifications of that situation are still being felt.
"That hit that we took with the American Beauty Academy was devastating to a lot of people," said Ila McKee, a former student at the American Beauty Academy of Lancaster.
The academy abruptly closed in November 2015 following the withholding of Title IV funds by the U.S. Department of Education.
The for-profit esthetics, cosmetology, and barber school allegedly misled students into believing they'd have an extended Thanksgiving break that year when it was, actually, permanently closing.
McKee, 36, was roughly halfway through the program, investing 600 hours into the cosmetology program, at the time of its closure.
She said to this day, she is facing more than $10,000 worth of student loan debt from her time at the American Beauty Academy of Lancaster
"For adults like myself that are in your 30s, or late 20s, going into your 40s, that's the time when you want to start establishing roots and you can't do that when you've got stacks of student debt and A.B.A just kind of helped crush a lot of peoples' dreams without being held accountable for it," said McKee.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office announced a settlement in which the school and its owner agreed to pay $8,788.09 in restitution and costs to two former students.
In a press release, it says "One consumer, Saundra Rollason, of Susquehanna Township, paid the school $6,212.50 for instruction hours for her granddaughter that she never received. Additionally, she purchased a kit for her granddaughter’s education that was only half provided by the school. Rollason filed a complaint in the hopes of recovering $6,787.50 in restitution.
“I paid American Beauty Academy thousands of dollars with the expectation that they would deliver on their promises to give my granddaughter a quality education,” said Rollason. “Instead, they deceived us and cheated us out of our money—and my granddaughter did not receive the certification she was promised from them. I’m grateful to the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection for holding the school accountable and working to get our money back.”
The Attorney General's Office is opening a 60-day window for former students to file claim to see if they're eligible to receive restitution.
“American Beauty Academy’s sudden closure left students in limbo about their futures and cheated out of hard earned money that they paid expecting to receive an education in return,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “I encourage anyone who has been harmed by American Beauty Academy’s closure to file a claim within the 60 day restitution window. My Bureau of Consumer Protection will continue working hard to hold for-profit schools accountable when their business practices are not cutting it for the students they are supposed to serve.”
McKee, who said she will pursue a claim, calls on former American Beauty Academy students to "speak up" about the hardships caused by its unexpected closure.
"It's a trade, it's a skill. A lot of people, you either have it or you don't. You go and pay thousands of dollars to learn it and then you're denied your education and you're still in debt? I think anybody would be upset," said McKee.
In order to determine if a student is eligible, they have to file a complaint with the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection and contact the Attorney General's Office.
The Attorney General's Office says students may file a complaint with the Bureau of Consumer Protection at http://www.attorneygeneral.gov or contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.