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Beauty school shuts down 79 campuses, including in Winston-Salem

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Regency Beauty Institute announced that it will be closing all 79 of their campuses nationwide, including the one in Winston-Salem.

“It was really exciting,” said Taylor Floyd, a former student at the institute, of beginning her education there. “This is what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.”

Many of the students had only months left before graduating.

“We were here yesterday and all of our instructors were telling us, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow,’” said Ivy Tilley, who was slated to graduate in November.

Hours later, the institute posted a statement on their website saying, “It is with great sadness that we announce that after more than 50 years of educating cosmetology students, Regency Beauty Institute is permanently closing on Sept. 28, 2016. This closure affects all 79 campuses.”

“It’s like everyone’s dreams got crashed,” said Allison Brown, who was on track to graduate before the end of the year. “In the blink of an eye.”

Many of the students learned about the closures via a text message from the institute.

“I got a text at 10:30. I mean, everybody else said they got theirs around 9,” Tilley said. “The clients found out before we did and we don’t blame our instructors because they didn’t know until yesterday either.”

“I started crying,” Floyd said, upon receiving the text. “That’s the only thing I could do was cry.”

“It was just heartbreaking,” Tilley added. “I mean, I’ve cried since I got it.”

The institute’s website says the closure happened because, “In short, the organization does not have the cash to continue to run the business. There are multiple intertwined reasons: declining numbers of cosmetology students nationwide, a negative characterization of for-profit education by regulators and politicians that continues to worsen and, in light of these factors, an inability to obtain continued financing.”

FOX8 was directed to call an 800 number to contact Regency Beauty Institute’s president, but the number was disconnected.

“They made the decision to not care about us and just kind of drop us like that,” Tilley said.

The institute’s statement continued, saying, “This is not another case of a school being forced to shut down because it was accused of wrongdoing. We held ourselves to high educational and ethical standards. The environment is simply not one that allows us to remain open. We diligently explored a range of strategic options that would benefit our students, teachers, and staff — and allow us to remain open. Unfortunately, those efforts were not successful.”

Students were able to collect their personal items from the campuses from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, and on Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Many of the students say they have already contacted other schools about continuing their education.