OKLAHOMA CITY - The news hit Trever Updegraff like a ton of bricks.
“You get a little worried,” he said. “It's your future.”
He and other students were called into a special meeting Wednesday and told Vatterott College was put on warning status from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
“A lot of people walked out before the meeting was even over,” Trever said. “A lot of people were upset, angry, confused, [and] didn't know what was going on.”
Students are worried about being locked out of class and for good reason.
How could you forget what happened at Heritage College late last year after the school abruptly closed its doors without notifying anyone.
Some students paid thousands of dollars in tuition and were just days away from graduating.
One student said, “I feel very cheated and then for them to just shut the doors and not tell anybody.”
Nora House and her agency, the Oklahoma Board of Private Vocational Schools, are closely monitoring Vatterott's financials and warning status.
“This is the early stages [and] there are four much more serious stages,” House said. “This doesn't mean the school is closing, but the accreditor puts the school on notice that they need to improve in an area and here's how and here's what reports we want in between.”
A Vatterott College spokesperson tells the In Your Corner team they are taking the warning seriously and will work closely with their accrediting agency over the next 5 months to alleviate their concerns.
Students however aren't sure what to think.
“Right now we're just trying to pretend like it's normal and get back to work and don't quit our classes,” Trever said.
In Oklahoma last year alone four for-profit schools went belly up without notice.
House says there are big differences though between Vatterott's situation and what happened with colleges like Wright and Heritage.
The warning status is actually a good thing.
“This gives us a heads up,” she said. “It gives the U.S. Dept. Of Education a heads up [and] the accreditors are watching. All of us can be resources to a school.”
Oklahoma's requirements of for-profit colleges are under review.
We can tell you state legislators are real close to introducing a new bill that will impose stricter financial guidelines.
House says her agency has been working with the now-defunct colleges to get stranded students their transcripts.
Trever says he’s sticking with Vatterott, but is exploring a separate apprenticeship as backup.
He said, “I did grab my transcript just in case.”
Students enrolled at Vatterott College right now are being asked to stay calm, but alert.
They can contact the Oklahoma Board of Private Vocational Schools with questions or to request their transcript.
Vatterott says the warning status is not a regulatory issue and does not impact the college's approval from the U.S. Department of Education to offer financial aid.
No immediate action is being taken, but the school will undergo a review again in 5 months.
We'll check back.