Art Institute of San Antonio students say pending closure puts them in limbo

Students said they were notified of the closure days before. They're now scrambling to find new schools that will accept them.

click to enlarge Students at San Antonio's Art Institute said they received an email on Sept. 22 announcing the campus' pending closure. - Google Maps
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Students at San Antonio's Art Institute said they received an email on Sept. 22 announcing the campus' pending closure.
For-profit college system the Art Institutes last week revealed it will close its eight remaining schools — a move students at its San Antonio campus say leaves them in financial and emotional purgatory.

The closure will affect 1,700 students nationwide, the New York Times reports. More than 200 of those are enrolled at the Alamo City campus, according to the Art Institutes' website.

Students received an email Friday, Sept. 22, saying that all the Art Institutes' last day of operation would be Sept. 30, student Celali Lopez told the Current in an email. She said the message "blindsided" both students and faculty.

“We are all looking for schools that are willing to take us in," she said.

A senior in the school's fashion design program, Lopez said she's only two quarters from graduation. She added that personnel in the school's financial office told her they don't have have any details at present about how she should go about repaying her loans.

Officials with the Education Principle Foundation, which owns the Art Institutes, were unavailable for comment at press time.

However, officials with the Art Institutes said in an online statement that they're working with "numerous partners" to facilitate student transfers. Students also will receive official transcripts at no cost on or after Oct. 1.

“We encourage you to complete your education at another school,” the statement added.

However, Lopez said students were given little time to find other options. The fall semester is already well underway at most colleges and universities. The news came on the final day of the quarter, when Lopez said she was turning in final exams and projects.

"To tell you how much we were surprised, I had just received my fall schedule two days before," Lopez said.

The Art Institutes struggled with low enrollment during the pandemic, according to The New York Times. What's more, one of its former owners faced allegations of fraud, which resulted in the campuses' loss of accreditation in 2018, the Times reports. That same year, the Art Institute shuttered 20 locations.

In 2015, the Art Institutes' corporate parent at the time, Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corp., was forced to pay out $95.5 million to settle allegations of fraud, according to a Department of Justice announcement.

DOJ officials maintained that Education Management violated federal and state law by falsely certifying that the Art Institutes were in compliance with federal rules on student loan and grant programs.

The system's ownership has changed multiple times since then, according to reporting by Inside Higher Ed. Education Principle Foundation acquired it in 2019, according to an EPF media release.

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