St. Louis students and employees angry over surprise shut down of Vatterott College

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BERKELEY, MO - There were many angry and upset students and employees Monday night after Vatterott College, abruptly shut its doors nationwide citing financial difficulties.

Students at the college’s Berkeley campus were left locked out after seeing a posted sign that read ‘School closed as of 4 p.m. today.’

“We spent over $38,000 to go to this school and now they’re saying we gotta do loan forgiveness? I’m not doing that,” said Aarika Dyson who was supposed to be in class beginning at 4p.m.

“My time. I can’t get that back,” said Monica Williams, “I worked hard for this you know? It’s not fair.”

In a letter sent to students, the for-profit college pointed to a U.S. Department of Education decision to limit Vatterott’s participation in federal financial aid programs.

The letter went on to say that the changes also made it difficult to secure additional financing or capital. In order to address these challenges, Vatterott entered into a Missouri state receivership and identified a buyer that was interested in purchasing Vatterott and investing the time and resources the college would need to stabilize and flourish.

“Vatterott is unable to continue operation under these restrictions, and consequently, is unable to complete the aforementioned sale. The Department imposed these restrictions despite the presence of an interested buyer and our clear communication that such restrictions would result in the school’s closure.”

For many students, the abrupt decision left them in a state of panic not knowing what they were going to do next.

“We are out $38,000, we are out an education,” said Kaylin Reeves. “Most of us took times out of our lives and sacrificed our time with our kids to be here, to better ourselves to pretty much be told ‘You’re screwed.”

“I have three kids and I’ve sacrificed so much time with them so I could get my homework done and come to school on time,” said Katie Wilkes.

In St Louis, Vatterott runs campuses in Fairview Heights Il, Berkeley, St Charles, Sunset Hills.  They also list on the company website campuses in Cleveland OH, Des Moines, IA, Joplin MO, Kansas City MO, Memphis TN, Oklahoma City OK, Quincy IL, Springfield MO, Tulsa OK, Wichita KS.  Also, in St Louis, the company’s website indicates they run L’Ecole Culinaire in St Louis.

Fox 2 News talked with several employees who said they received the notification.  It is unclear how many employees there are locally in St. Louis.

“This is going to be bad,” said Randy McCracken who was an employee at the St. Charles campus, “this is putting my family and many families in a real bad spot.”

The company indicated it will not comment on any media inquiries.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (R) also weighed in on the announcement saying:

“Another overcharging, underperforming for-profit college has closed its doors.  It’s the second major chain in just the last three weeks to abruptly close.  And it won’t be the last.  With the collapse of Vatterott College, another 156 students in Illinois and 2,300 nationwide are left high and dry. "

Now it is the obligation of the Department of Education to do everything in its power to make sure that students are fully informed of available options, including closed school discharge, and to prevent these students from being lured into completing their studies at other predatory and financially shaky for-profit colleges.  I am calling on Illinois community colleges to step up and help the students that Vatterott and the for-profit college industry have failed.”

Officials told students they were working to store their permanent records and identify other schools that could accept current students on transfer.

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