Campus Closures Leave Students Reeling

Campus Closures Leave Students Reeling (Argosy University, Seattle is one of 22 campuses that abruptly closed on March 8. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons))

San FranciscoDread. Tears. The sense of having wasted precious time.

These are just some responses from students at 22 campuses owned by a company called Dream Center Education Holdings, when they learned earlier this month that their colleges would suddenly close.

Tens of thousands of students across the U.S. could be affected by the closure of most Argosy University and Art Institute campuses.

Dream Center, a Christian non-profit organization, acquired Argosy and the Art Institutes in 2017. Just one week prior to the closings, the U.S. Department of Education cut off federal loans to Argosy, after learning that the institution used $13 million of aid meant for students to cover payroll and other expenses, according to the Washington Post.

Students say they received an email about a possible shut down on March 6, just two days before schools officially closed their doors. Now, they say they're scrambling to transfer credits to other schools, claim refunds on their student loans, or awaiting promised diplomas in the mail.

YR Media reached out to Dream Center for comment and did not hear back by deadline. 

Here’s what five Argosy and Art Institute students told YR Media’s Amber Ly about the effect of the closures and their future plans.

Trey Young, 28, former Art Institute of Seattle and San Francisco student

Photo courtesy of Trey Young

“I felt like Chicken Little, just like, ‘The sky is falling, the sky is falling.’ I was saying, ‘Everyone listen, we’re not going to have a school soon.’ But then, I never expected for it to be shut down before the end of the quarter. I thought at least we would get to finish our quarter out. Now, I’m going to finish my degree at the Seattle Film Institute.

"I’m also a veteran. I have family that can take care of me, but other veterans, they’re just gonna be another statistic of homeless veterans because of this situation.”

Evan Kelley, 21, former Art Institute of San Francisco and Hollywood student

Photo courtesy of Evan Kelley

“Initially when the San Francisco campus shut down and I was told the Hollywood campus would remain open, I felt that maybe things could work out. [So I transferred to the Hollywood campus.] When I got that email [that the Hollywood campus was closing], there was just this like sense of dread. I felt like I had went mad for two seconds because I started to laugh. Like, 'Come on, dude, I had just got here.'

"I kind of felt like the school had pulled the rug out from under me. I can’t change the fact that the school is closing. I have to roll with the punches and try to stay optimistic, because if I feel myself getting too down in the dumps, it kind of hinders my taking action. And I always wanna be proactive.”

Alexandra Beuchat, 33, former Argosy University, Denver and online student

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Beuchat

“So, I’ve graduated. I have a transcript that shows the date of completion, but I’m still anxiously waiting every single day. I check the mail like a little kid on Christmas for the diploma. So if we don’t get these degrees, it would be devastating.

“When I heard the school closed, I cried all night because I had no idea what was going to happen. Some of us students have talked. And had Dream Center not continued to have promised that we would be fine, some of us probably would’ve switched schools and wouldn’t have to go through this.”

Jennifer Smith, 47, former Argosy online student

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Smith

“There’s a group of us that were in the program together. And we’re looking at different programs to see where we can transfer our credits. And it’s just a handful of schools that’s even offering this type of program.

"I only had a certain amount of student loans available to finish my degree. Everything else would have to be private pay out of pocket. So, now, we’re just left out there to figure this out on our own."

Rachel Maier, 32, former Argosy University, Tampa student

Photo courtesy of Rachel Maier

“We’re just going to wait and see if a diploma shows up. I don’t have a whole lot of options. I had a 3-month-old when I went back to school, and I’ve taken four months time away from her while doing the program. I don’t think I'm eligible for the loan forgiveness because I’ve read the stipulations for that and it says if you’ve completed the program, then you’re not eligible even if you don’t get your diploma. So we’ll probably just end up calling it a wash if I don’t get my diploma at this point.”

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