By Ami Schneider
The author, second from left, with other for-profit students in New Orleans.
My name is Ami Schneider. I attended the Illinois Institute of Art in Schaumburg (one of the Art Institutes campuses) between 2007-2010. While enrolled, I became aware of the school's deceptive practices and realized that trusting administration and management to have the students' best interests would be a mistake. The very fact that the Art Institutes are for-profit schools tells you that they are more interested in making money for investors than in educating students.
In May of 2015, Education Management Corporation (EDMC), the parent company of the Art Institutes, announced that 15 Art Institutes campuses would cease enrollments and shut down. In January of 2016, three more campuses followed suit. Former AI students have reported that the schools are not adequetely informing current students of what a teach out is, or what their options are. Currently-enrolled students are also not being informed of what this means for the future of the Art Institutes and EDMC as a whole. Here's what current for-profit college students need to know.
What is a teach out? (following section written by Niki Howland)
When a campus closes and you are currently enrolled, it is important to know that the school will try to offer you a “teach out” as a way to complete the program you are enrolled in. In the case of a campus closure, the school will likely try to push you to transfer to a different for-profit school where your credits will transfer. Your credits will not transfer to a legitimate public college, unless that school has agreed to make special arrangements for students from a closed school. Accepting a transfer or a “teach out” is completing the program and disqualifies you for debt discharge according to the Department of Education. The Department of Education’s website also proclaims:
“You may be eligible for a 100% discharge of your Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans, or Federal Perkins Loans under
either of these circumstances:
● Your school closes while you're enrolled, and you do not complete your program because of the closure. If you were on an approved leave of absence, you are considered to have been enrolled at the school.
● Your school closes within 120 days after you withdraw.”
You should be careful not to sign any documents with the school agreeing to continue your program with them as a “teach out”, or to transfer your credits to other locations or schools to complete your degree. If you agree to a teach out, you may be waiving your eligibility for a discharge of your loans.
You are better off fighting for a FULL loan discharge. What former students have learned, and what the Department of Education is not telling current students, is that if your school closes while you are enrolled you have a right to file for a closed school discharge instead of accepting a teach out.
AI campuses teaching out and no longer accepting students:
The Art Institute of Tucson, AZ The Art Institute of California - Los Angeles, CA The Art Institute of California - Silicon Valley, CA The Art Institute of Jacksonville, FL The Art Institute ofAtlanta, GA (Decatur campus) The Illinois Institute of Art - Tinley Park, IL New England Institute of Art - Brookline, MA The Art Institute of Michigan - Troy, MI The Art Institutes International - Kansas City, MO The Art Institute of St. Louis, MO The Art Institute of New York, NY The Art Institute of Ohio - Cincinnati, OH The Art Institute of York, PA The Art Institute of Fort Worth, TX The Art Institute of Houston, TX The Art Institute of Salt Lake City, UT The Art Institute of Washington - Dulles, VA The Art Institute of Wisconsin, WI
If you are a student at one of these closed schools, please join our Facebook page,"I am Ai" and share your story.
If you are a defrauded student and borrower from any campus, use the Defense to Repayment (DTR) application to submit directly to the Department of Education. It is a legal dispute of your federal loans. The Department has agreed to review all Defense to Repayment claims. While filling out the form doesn't guarantee a discharge of your loans, it helps us keep the pressure on the Department to do its job and cancel this unjust and illegitimate debt.
For more information on the kind of evidence to submit with your DTR, go to the Debt Collective wiki page on for-profit fraud. By working together and by refusing to be silenced, we will get justice for ourselves and for all defrauded students debtors across the country.