Career Education Corp, the group behind the organization, said that 16 schools would be shut down by 2017, but current students will be able to finish their studies.
According to a statement issued Wednesday, the school won’t accept new students after January 2016, yet students that had already enrolled in the cooking school’s programs will be allowed to complete their education by September 2017.
The group argued that the move is necessary after new federal regulations drastically limited its schools’ funding. The new rules allow federal funding only for schools that make a profit. Plus, student loan payments would be now restricted to one-fifth of their wages after graduation.
Todd Nelson, president and chief executive of the culinary school, explained that under the new federal rules it is nearly impossible for career centers with high operation costs to properly run. And schools that provide training in culinary sciences need expensive tools, modern kitchens, and food costs.
Last year, the school located in Portland had more than 440 students. Each student had to pay on an average basis about $13,360 every year for their education.
The center in Portland has a long tradition. It first opened its gates in 1983 under the name of a famous Portland chef and co-founder, Horst Mager. Three years later, the school was renamed as Western Culinary Institute. In the late 1990s, the schools closed a partnership with Le Cordon Bleu. In 2010, the school was officially named Le Cordon Bleu.
Many of the schools’ graduates eventually became talented chefs. Of those, we mention Matt Lightner who made a career at Castagna in Portland before moving to New York City three years ago and Homaro Cantu, a famous chef at Chicago-based Moto Restaurant.
Vitaly Paley, a praised Portland chef who owns Paley’s Place, recalls that Le Cordon Bleu programs became a steady source of talented chefs over the years, many of whom he himself hired.
Paley was visibly upset that the school had to be closed down because it no longer had the necessary funding to sustain its business. Yet, Doug Adams, a Paley’s chef and “Top Chef” contestant, has mixed feelings about the news.
He said that he had to drop out Le Cordon Bleu over concerns that his student debt would grow even larger. He added that acquiring debt in exchange of a degree is the greatest drawback of culinary schools, but he, nevertheless, admitted that many people find those schools really helpful.
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