BERKELEY, Mo. (KMOV.com) - Vatterott College has shut down nationwide, including its St. Louis office, effective December 17.

Vatterott closing

The for-profit college, which has several locations in the St. Louis area, closed effective at 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

Students at the North Park Campus, which is in Berkeley, arrived Monday afternoon to find a sign on the door announcing the closure. They also received this letter.

A letter sent to staff said the school is working to identify other schools that may be able to take current students on transfer.

Employee benefits will stop on December 17 and staff will be paid through their final day of work.

Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, later confirmed the closure in a statement. He added the school's 156 students in Illinois and 2,300 nationwide "are left high and dry."

Vatterott was founded in St. Louis in 1969.

The BBB says there are several red flags to look for when signing up at a for-profit school to make sure its reputable:

  • Instead of using high pressure sales tactics like bullying or claiming you have to sign up immediately, a reputable school will take the time to answer your questions, allow you to talk to a financial aid adviser and not require a hasty decision.
  • Beware of any school that guarantees you will get a job after completing their program. You should also confirm the school’s promises of future wages with third parties to make sure the school is accurate in its message.
  • Before enrolling with any for-profit school, do your research and compare costs with other for-profit schools and public colleges. A government study found wide price differences between schools for essentially the same field of study.
  • Ask the school’s representative about national and regional accreditation and then confirm it with the accrediting organization. You can check with the US Department of Education at http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/ to learn which post secondary schools are accredited by approved agencies.
  • Online schools that promise to give you a cheap and easy degree usually prove worthless providing documents that won’t be recognized by the military, employers or other colleges. If all you need to do earn a diploma is take a test online or describe your life experience, it probably isn’t a legitimate school.
  • Ask plenty of questions when talking to recruiters and if you get the runaround, you may want to avoid the school. Reputable schools will clearly describe the program’s duration, costs and graduation rates.
  • Some recruiters encourage students to lie on their financial aid applications to get more money from the government for tuition. If you misrepresent yourself on your financial aid forms, you may have to pay the government back the money you borrowed and could be fined and sent to prison.

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