Vatterott College, a national for-profit college, has abruptly closed all of its locations, including one in Fairview Heights.
Students and professors were made aware of the decision to permanently close via email Monday afternoon.
Brandi Frauenfelder, who had been a student at Vatterott’s Fairview Heights campus, said that the announcement made her “really sad” and that she’d even been in class there at 10:30 a.m. with homework expected to be done for Tuesday morning. She said a teacher alerted her at 3:15 p.m.
“We were told we will never set foot in the building again after today,” Frauenfelder, who was pursuing an associate’s degree to become a medical office assistant, said. “It’s just crazy. I worked really hard and now there’s no proof I was ever in college.”
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In the letter, students were told they can apply for loan forgiveness if they have student loans. Vatterott told students it was working to identify other schools that would be able to take current students to transfer, so that those who have yet to graduate would have the opportunity to complete a program at least similar to one they were pursuing there.
Jim Haverstick, a public information officer at SWIC, said the college welcomes former Vetterott students. “Our program coordinators and ready to meet with students to evaluate their credits and determine transfer to SWIC programs.”
Mary Sawyer, a spokeswoman for Ranken Technical College, also invited Vatterott students to enroll for classes that begin Jan. 7.
“Ranken offers degree programs in areas such as Diesel, Automotive Maintenance, HVAC, Welding, Information Technology, Electrical and Carpentry & Building Construction. Ranken also offers a Bachelor of Science in Applied Management degree that may interest Vatterott students,” Sawyer wrote.
Call 618-235-2700 ext. 5186 to make an appointment to speak with a dean at SWIC.
The Academy of Pet Careers in Chesterfield is offering free tuition to Vatterott students.
“It is our hope that other schools will follow suit and help to puck up the pieces for the thousands of students who have invested their time and savings into a degree they may never see,” academy President Joseph Schifano said in an email.
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s office issued a statement on Vatterott’s closing Monday night.
“Another overcharging, underperforming for-profit college has closed its doors,” the statement said.
Durbin called on Illinois community colleges to step up and help the students that Vatterott and the for-profit college industry “failed.”
“With the collapse of Vatterott College, another 156 students in Illinois and 2,300 nationwide are left high and dry,” the statement said.