CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Queen City College has been teaching beauty and barbering in Clarksville for the past 40 years, but last week they made the difficult announcement that they will be closing their doors.
Those who run the school said it’s a result of federal funding regulations taking effect this year.
“I’m doing my best not to break down because it is so emotional; it’s all we’ve known for 40 years,” Director of Education Laura Payne said.
For Laura, the history of Queen City College is a bit of a love story. Years ago, she went to work for a noted Clarksville barber, who three months later became her husband. Ralph Payne would go on to start the school, after his disappointment with the lack of quality barber training available in the area.
Over the years, the school’s location in Clarksville has attracted many veterans interested in becoming barbers.
“We have a number of graduates, former military graduates who now own their own barber shops all up Fort Campbell Boulevard and in Clarksville itself,” said Tracy Petch, financial aid officer and friend of the Payne family.
Ironically, a measure meant to protect those veterans’ funds for continuing education is backfiring. A “90/10” rule put in by the federal government limits how much veteran education benefits a private college can receive. The idea behind the policy is to prevent schools from prying on veterans’ financial aid. However, without those funds, Queen City College can’t afford to stay in business.
“[My] biggest fear is that they would tell us that we had to close. Tell us that we no longer receive aid from the government for these students to use to come to school here,” Petch said.
With that, the school announced it will begin preparing to close, only accepting students for a short time longer. The last enrollment for hair students will happen Aug. 1, and the school plans to officially close its doors sometime in 2025.
“We at no point ever wanted to be shut down where our doors were locked and students and/or employees for that matter came to school, came to work that day, and there was a sign on the door that said, ‘Sorry, we’re closed,’” Laura said.
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With Queen City being the only barber school in their area, Laura worries some might have to even choose a different career.
“We just always assumed that our legacy would continue on; it just did not cross our minds that it would come to the point where we had to close the doors,” Laura said.
In addition to Queen City’s education and student salon, they also operate a food pantry and clothing donation spot in the back of their building.