McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul is closing in two weeks because of financial difficulties, it was announced on Thursday evening.
In a letter to students and staff delivered at 5 p.m., President Harry Charmiers said the college had suffered several years of "declining enrollment and revenue."
As a result, the college will discontinue its courses at the end of the current semester.
He continued to say that college has been trying to secure the funding to become a nonprofit college for two years.
"In spite of our best efforts, we have been unable to obtain this funding and the cash necessary to fund ongoing operations."
The news came as a huge shock to students suddenly needing to find somewhere else to continue their studies, and faculty and staff members who will find themselves out of a job shortly after Christmas.
To make matters worse, staff members were told in an email from board chairman Jack McNally, which has been seen by GoMN, that the college doesn't have enough money to meet payroll on Friday.
"The owners have stated that they are 'committed to making good on the wages owed to you and will do so as soon as we possibly can."
Despite this, McNally – who founded the college along with Doug Smith in 1985 – is asking teachers to finish the term and issue grades even without pay "simply for the sake of our students."
As for its 600 students, the college says it's in discussions with other institutions locally and nationally "seeking their partnership to provide each of you with options where you may continue your studies."
But some students told the Star Tribune, McNally course credits aren't easily transferrable to other schools, meaning they face an uphill battle finding somewhere to carry on their education.
The reaction among students, staff and alumni was a mixture of sadness and anger at the sudden announcement, with Mayor Chris Coleman among those having their say.