MORENO VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) --Sage College students returned from winter break on Tuesday to find a letter posted to a locked door alerting them the Moreno Valley career college was shut down.
Several students gathered outside the door hoping to learn more about the sudden closure.
"I was devastated because I just never thought that a school like this, one that was so established and so well respected would close," student Jessica Davis said.
For 40 years the for-profit college offered court reporting and paralegal programs. But over the holidays the school sent out an email to students and staff letting them know they wouldn't be opening after the break.
"When we found out that the school was closing that's when I found out I lost my job. There was no warning at all," former employee Marla Bennett explained.
The closure was the result of a legal battle between the U.S. Department of Education and the agency which accredits institutions such as Sage College.
In December, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools lost its federal recognition.
Without that, Sage College students would be left with possibly worthless diplomas. Students said they were made aware of the ongoing issue.
"We received emails since then kind of updating us on what was going on," student Erin Williams said.
Even so, students said the school's administrators reassured them they had a back-up plan in place.
"I was told that we had already been picked up by a different agency and if we weren't going to be picked up we would have 18 months," student Serenity Rodriguez said. "So they really reassured us over and over again. They definitely didn't say it was going to close abruptly the way that it did."
This isn't the first time for profit schools have shuttered their doors abruptly in the Inland Empire.
Marinello Schools of Beauty shut its doors after losing access to federal financial aid in 2016. Four-D College also closed after it lost its accreditation in 2015.
Students at Four-D College were offered help enrolling elsewhere and loan forgiveness.
"This is my dream. This is what I want to do," Williams said. "This is where I want to be. This is one of the best schools."
According to the department of education and Sage College, there will be resources made available to students, including the possibility of loan forgiveness.