Vatterott Educational Centers announced the immediate closure of all its campuses Monday, citing financial difficulties.
In a letter sent to students, the for-profit college based in Berkeley pointed to a U.S. Department of Education decision to limit Vatterott’s participation in federal financial aid programs.
The move doomed a pending sale of most of its campuses to another for-profit education company, Education Corporation of America, which officials said in January would have allowed the school to remain operational.
“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,” the letter reads.
All Vatterott schools were placed on probation by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges this year.
The chain has campuses in Fairview Heights, Berkeley, St. Charles and Sunset Hills, as well as 11 more across the Midwest.
In November, the commission voted to revoke Vatterott’s accreditation, on the grounds that the Berkeley-based school failed to “demonstrate successful student achievement and by maintaining acceptable rates of student graduation and graduate employment.”
And its potential buyer has had financial woes of its own.
This month, Education Corporation of America announced that it too was shuttering all campuses nationwide, after its accrediting agency suspended approval. One of the largest for-profit college chains in the U.S., it had enrolled roughly 20,000 students across more than 70 campuses, including the Virginia College and Brightwood College chains.
The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools reported concerns with student outcomes and progress, staff turnover, curriculum review and institutional management across the campuses of Virginia College.
In legal documents from October, the company said declining student enrollment had left it unable to make payments on its debt and rental fees. It faced eviction at several campuses.
Vatterott specialized in culinary arts, automotive trades, allied health and music production, among other areas. Vatterott Educational Centers has 950 employees, roughly 500 of whom are in Missouri.
In 2011, St. Louis rapper Nelly helped create Vatterott College’s ex’treme institute, a music production school in St. Louis, though the artist and the college cut ties this year.
Students and staff were instructed Monday to gather any personal belongings and leave campus. Officials told students they were working to store their permanent records and identify other schools that could accept them on transfer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.