The Long Island Business Institute's Commack location. The closure impacts...

The Long Island Business Institute's Commack location. The closure impacts about 500 students at Commack, Queens and Manhattan sites. Credit: James Carbone

The Long Island Business Institute, with locations in Commack, Flushing and Manhattan, is ceasing operations of its educational programs on Monday, officials said.

The reason for the closure of the 54-year-old institution is unclear. Institute officials did not respond to several emails and phone messages Wednesday and Thursday.

The closure date was included in a news release from Empire State University, a SUNY school that is offering enrollment to the institute’s students for the spring academic term and subsequent terms.

“We are saddened by the news of Long Island Business Institute closing, but we are pleased to be able to support its students in achieving their degree completion,” said Empire State University provost Nathan Gonyea in the release.

LIBI president Monica Foote said in the release, “I am grateful for the support of Empire State University to ensure the academic well-being of Long Island Business Institute’s students. She cited a "long-standing partnership" with Empire State, SUNY's only online institution. 

The closure impacts about 500 students, and about 400 have expressed interest in enrolling in Empire State University, said Empire spokeswoman Cherie Haughney.

According to its website, Long Island Business Institute’s two-year associate degrees are focused on providing skills in fields such as court reporting, hospitality management and accounting.

Two higher education officials — one from an accreditation agency and the other from Five Towns College, which has worked with the institute — pointed to the school's trouble with obtaining federal student aid

The business institute was in the process of finding a new accreditor after its previous accreditation agency had stopped granting such status. It had been applying for new accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, according to commission president Mac Powell. He said the commission had granted the school initial accreditation status about a week ago, which means it had met the commission's standards.

But the business institute has been unable to obtain federal Title IV funds for student aid, which forced it to "self-fund" and enter into financial difficulties, Powell said.

It was unclear whether the school will shut down permanently or continue to attempt to obtain the federal funds and restart classes, according to Powell.

LIBI's court-reporting program had moved in December to Five Towns College, in Dix Hills. 

Five Towns president David Cohen attributed the troubles at the business institute to the challenges that colleges face in operating on Long Island, including declining enrollments, the rising costs of doing business here and the difficulty of dealing with the federal regulatory landscape.

He noted that Long Island has lost several institutions of higher learning, including Dowling College in Oakdale, a branch of St. John's University in Hauppauge, and Briarcliffe College, which had campuses in Bethpage and Patchogue.

"The story is the retrenchment of higher education on Long Island. We're losing another school that has 50 years on Long Island," Cohen said.

"They [the institute] had lapsed in their accreditation, and they were in a regulatory morass as a result," he said.

SUNY Empire officials said they will help LIBI students who are enrolled in their accounting, business management, hospitality management, office technology and office technology programs.

“We are working diligently to help our partners and colleagues at Long Island Business Institute ensure a smooth transition for their students," said Empire State University president Lisa Vollendorf.

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