SIOUX FALLS, S.D. Kilian Community College has been a part of Sioux Falls since the 1970's, but the institution's tenure in town won’t last much longer.
In a surprise announcement, the college announced it will shut down in May 2016. Former students say they were devastated when they heard the news.
Tony DePaolo earned his Associate's Degree from Kilian College last May. He can't believe the school is closing.
"I know there’s a lot of people out there that are in the same boat as I am that aren’t traditional students that would benefit from having a place like Kilian to go to,” DePaolo said.
The school's board decided to ask a tough question after a five-year period of declining enrollment.
"But at the end of the day are you still providing students with the best quality education that you can? And we felt while we're still providing a very good value and a very good education at this time, long term we didn’t feel that it was in the best interest to continue to operate long term,” Kilian Community College President Mark Millage said.
Kilian caters to non-traditional students.
In 2005, they had a peak attendance with 600 students completing the fall semester. For the Fall 2015, only 150 students enrolled.
"What used to be a market pretty much exclusive to us is now a market that everyone is chasing after,” Millage explained.
The school will close its doors after graduation in May 2016, but many students won't be finished with their degrees. Millage says the school will do everything to make sure students get the help they need to move forward after the closure.
“We're going to do everything we can to make the transition and completion as simple as possible for these students. We're going to work it out so that at the end of the day they will get that degree,” Millage stated.
After his own time at the institution, DePaolo says he is confident students will be able to transfer their credits and continue their education.
“All the advisors and all the teachers were really upfront with what you needed in order to transfer from one school to another and so it was made very, very clear to me when I was a student there that everything you're doing here now will transfer over to a different school if you wanted to go on and further your education and get a bachelors,” he said.