The Student Travel Association has abruptly packed its bags and closed its shop in the University Center.

STA, the largest student travel company in the nation, shut its doors without warning at the end of the 2007-08 school year. The travel service formally adjacent to Jamba Juice provided students with discounts on airfare, hotels, travel loans and student ID cards.

Alan Kirby, University Center Director, said UCen administrators were not warned in advance of STA’s closure on campus.

“Their corporate headquarters issued a statement indicating that they were going to close 46 of their offices nationwide, and ours was one of the 46,” Kirby said. “June 27th was when the notice went out, and they closed the doors that very day. We were given no notice. We got an e-mail that went out at 8 a.m., that effective immediately, STA would close its doors.”

Kirby said he thought the move was indicative of a national trend of online travel services being preferred over in-store visits.

“I think [STA] was a good service for the campus and my impression is that they had done pretty well here, but the corporate office decided they would be one of the 46 to close,” Kirby said.

According to Kirby, the now empty space will soon be occupied by a Kaplan Test Preparation Center.

“Soon Kaplan testing services will be moving into the space, we hope by November 1st, Kirby said. “85 percent of their customers who take their tests are UCSB students, so they approached us looking for some space in the building.”

Russell Schaffer, senior communications manager at the Santa Barbara Kaplan branch, said he could not officially comment on Kaplan’s intent to open the new store until all official documents had been finalized.

“When it comes to real estate, we don’t comment on anything until something is signed,” Schaffer said.

Elyse Richardson, an employee at the UCen Information Desk, said she receives constant inquiry regarding the sudden closure of STA.

“I think it’s unfortunate, especially since they had such great deals,” Richardson, a third year political science major said. “Students come by every day asking where [STA] moved to and if they’re coming back, and when I have to tell them they’re gone you can see the disappointment in their faces.”