The College of St. Joseph will close at the end of the semester due to financial problems, the school’s president announced Thursday.
St. Joseph will be the third small private college to close in Vermont this year.
The Rutland school has been struggling for some time, and earlier this year the regional accrediting agency informed the college it intended to withdraw its accreditation this summer. The school vowed to endeavor to stay open at the time.
St. Joseph was one of many small colleges across the country struggling to stay open as the rising cost of tuition has become unaffordable for more families and the college-age population is on the decline nationwide.
In Vermont, Green Mountain College and Southern Vermont College are also closing and Goddard College, in Plainfield, is on probation with accreditors because of financial problems.
Earlier this month, the leaders of the College of St. Joseph said the school was exploring a possible merger with another institution. President Jennifer Scott said in her letter Thursday that the potential partner decided against it.
“Creating and implementing a thoughtful plan for a deep affiliation proved to be too great of a feat given our current accreditation deadline and critical financial condition,” Scott wrote.
She said that even though the school had a plan to raise money by selling assets and fund-raising, it was not enough to stop their loss of accreditation.
College of St. Joseph, which was founded in 1956 as an independent Catholic college, has offered 20 undergraduate degree programs and 12 graduate programs on a 117-acre wooded campus out outskirts of the town, according to the school’s website.
The school has been among many that rely almost entirely on tuition because they have small endowments. However, enrollment dropped 32 percent over 20 years, from 336 students to 230, according to federal data. To help counter that trend, the school lowered tuition for students entering last fall, from $23,000 to $17,500, gave students laptops, and helped pay for books.
The college is moving forward with a contingency plan to have students finish their degrees at Castleton University, a public liberal arts college in Castleton, Vt.
The school said it also has agreements with other schools where students will be able to finish their degrees.
“Our primary focus and desire is to take care of the immediate needs of our students and to support this transition for our entire community,” Scott wrote.
Other colleges that have closed locally within the past year include: Mount Ida College, in Newton, which closed last May; Newbury College, in Brookline, which will shut down this May; and Wheelock College, which recently merged with Boston University.