COUNTRY CLUB PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) --When the Marinello Schools of Beauty closed abruptly last week because of a loss in federal funding, thousands of students were left in limbo.
They had no way to finish their degrees but many were still facing thousands of dollars in student loan debt.
Now the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles is trying to help local students navigate the tricky paperwork path to try to have their loans forgiven.
About 40 students met with Legal Aid advisers Wednesday night at the group's Crenshaw Boulevard office.
"We step back, slowly go through the process figuring out what their loan situation is now," said Josephine Lee, an attorney with the Legal Aid Foundation. "And then we explain to them what their rights are, how to go through the process, where to submit it, what to expect afterwards."
The private beauty-school chain shut down all 56 locations nationwide on Feb. 5 after the U.S. Department of Education decided to cut off financial aid to 23 of its schools in California and Nevada.
The government cited numerous problems with the schools' programs and procedures, including graduating students who did not know how to cut hair, charging inappropriate fees and reporting false job placement rates. The schools received more than $87 million in Pell Grants and other federal aid last year.
The closure has left students frustrated and worried about their future.
"We were very devastated," said student Geniene Glasgo, who was supposed to graduate this week. "Everyone was crying. It's like a total loss for us. We have to pick up somewhere and keep going."
Marinello students who need advice can contact the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles at 213-640-3917.