Bellingham beauty school grads’ debt too high, so feds pulled financial aid funding

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A recently shuttered beauty school was saddling graduates with excessive loan payments, according to federal data, apparently leading to the school’s loss of financial aid.

The Beauty Institute-Schwarzkopf Professional, a private cosmetology school at 1411 Railroad Ave., abruptly ended classes in early April as a result of the funding loss, according to signs on the school’s front door. The sign said the school was in negotiations to reopen.

But students and at least one instructor said school leaders, who are seldom reachable, have given minimal or conflicting information about whether that will happen.

The school operated two locations in Idaho, in addition to the one in Bellingham: one school in Boise, and another in Coeur d’Alene, where the program was headquartered.

Calls to most phone numbers listed on the school’s website went unanswered. Other numbers were disconnected, or were no longer associated with the schools, according to people who answered.

Messages left at Schwazkopf Professional’s headquarters were not returned.

School failed new regulations

The Department of Education rolled out new rules, called gainful employment regulations, in 2015. For schools to be compliant, graduates’ loan payments must be less than 8 percent of their total income, or less than 20 percent of their discretionary income, according to the department.

Proponents say the law prevents for-profit schools from burying students in debt, and schools that fail risk losing access to taxpayer-funded loan dollars.

The department in November released gainful employment data on thousands of career programs across the country.

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