BRIDGEPORT -- Students displaced by the closure of Butler Business School and sister facilities in Hamden and Hartford may be eligible to get all their federal student loans forgiven, but only if they register, state officials said Friday.
The state Office of Higher Education has so far heard from only 180 students who attended the schools, which abruptly closed last week.
In 2011-12, the schools had a combined enrollment of more than 1,200.
Connie Fraser, a spokeswoman for the state's higher education office, said her office has been in touch with Academic Enterprises, owner of the schools, and expects to have the transcripts of all students by Tuesday.
The group's Rhode Island school is also closed, according to the state and several Butler students who drove to the Providence and Pawtucket facilities Wednesday.
"These revocations are final and cannot be appealed," said Albert C. Gray, executive director of the ACICS, in a statement.
"As accreditors, we're committed to helping these students succeed. With their best interests at heart, we're taking extraordinary measures to resolve this issue as quickly and effectively as possible -- and we're confident we'll do just that."
Gray said his organization is working with state higher education officials in Connecticut and Rhode Island to offer affected students comparable programs at no additional cost to them.
State Attorney General George Jepsen, meanwhile, said his office is working with the state Office of Higher Education to facilitate help for students through a guaranty fund and other assistance.
"To the extent that OHE pays students out of the fund and assets are available, my office will aggressively seek reimbursement from the schools," Jepsen said.
Preliminary indications are that a combination of factors led to the closing, including falling enrollment, possible financial issues and a new federal law that took effect in July, requiring students who are enrolled in private occupational schools to either have a high school diploma or GED.
It is unclear how many students were enrolled this fall.
"The state Department of Education only schedules GED exams at certain times. There may have been an issue with Hurricane Sandy interrupting the schedule," Fraser said.
Earlier this week, Sue Waters, an instructor at Butler for the past seven years, said a number of students at the school were working simultaneously to complete a GED and the 13-month training program.
Butler offered programs in medical assistant/secretary, office information systems and phlebotomy technician.
"The best way we have of letting them know of their options is for them to register," said Fraser. Some students had loans in excess of $22,000.
Fraser said students that completed all components of the program, including externships, would be eligible for completion certificates.
To register with the state, go to www.ctohe.org. The number to call is 800-842-0229.