Over $200K in debt for Pittsburgh Career Institute students to be canceled, AG ensures

PITTSBURGH — Over a dozen students from the recently shuttered Pittsburgh Career Institute will be seeing their debt balances erased.

According to Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry, the AG’s office reached an agreement with the school that will erase $218,000 in outstanding debt balances when the institute closed.

>> Pittsburgh Career Institute closing in 2 weeks due to ‘factors outside the school’s control’

“The sudden closure of Pittsburgh Career Institute left many students with outstanding balances,” Attorney General Henry said. “It is only right that these students are not on the hook for those balances. My office is committed to helping students who spend much money, time, and effort on higher education and do not receive the promised benefits.”

Channel 11 reported in November 2022 that the institute said “a number of factors outside the school’s control have led to closing.” The attorney general’s office said the Department of Education decided to no longer accept PCI’s institutional accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.

Instead of finding a new accreditor in the allotted 18 months they were given, PCI closed with less than 200 enrolled students at the time.

Since Jan. 1, 2020, the attorney general’s office has obtained more than $205 million in private and federal student loan debt cancelation.

When Emily Wolfgang, 24, started the vet tech program at PCI, she couldn’t be more excited.

“The staff was really nice when I met them,” said Wolfgang. “The environment was clean and nice, so I just decided to go with my gut and go there.”

But after PCI’s accreditation was pulled and it abruptly announced it was shutting down with less than two weeks’ notice, Wolfgang was devastated.

She was just one class away from graduating.

“I had one class left and then my externship when I found out that the school was closing down,” Wolfgang said. “I was very frustrated.”

Adding to the frustration, she had to pay out of pocket for her license exam and externship. Wolfgang said those expenses should have been paid for through the school.

Unfortunately, the agreement between the AG’s office and PCI does not include any sort of reimbursement for students in that position.

“It’s very confusing,” said Lisa Wolfgang, Emily Wolfgang’s mom. “You don’t start classes without paying for them, so I don’t understand how there’s even anybody still owing. It doesn’t make sense.”

Although the end of her college experience left a bad taste in her mouth, Emily Wolfgang said she’s just grateful to be working in the field she loves.

“Most of the teachers there were great, and I had really good experiences with them,” she said. “But just how it was run as an institution was, obviously it ended, and how it ended, so it wasn’t that great of a foundation.”

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