Art Institute of Indianapolis facing accreditation issues, no longer accepting new students

Students criticize campus for not placing grads

INDIANAPOLIS--  The Art Institute of Indianapolis is facing accreditation issues due to a lack of job placements and is no longer accepting new students.

A message posted to the school's website Monday afternoon directed people to a phone number, in which an operator told Call 6 Investigates the Indianapolis location is indeed ceasing enrollment but any student already accepted can take online classes at a 50 percent discount.

The operator also told us that it was a “fiduciary decision” and that existing students will be able to finish their classes.

The north side school offers programs in fashion, culinary, visual design, interior design, film & production and has an enrollment of more than 900 students.

Call 6 Investigates has been digging into concerns about the Art Institute for the past several weeks, and Monday the Art Institute’s parent organization Dream Center Education Holdings issued a statement to our Kara Kenney.

“Since acquiring these schools in late 2017, we have been undergoing an ongoing process of evaluating the viability of certain campus-based programs relative to student needs and preferences in order to best support our students, both present and future,” said Anne Dean, spokeswoman for the Art Institute of Indianapolis. “As a result of that examination, we have made the decision to cease new enrollments for a number of schools within The Art Institutes, Argosy University, and South University systems. This decision is for new students only and we will redirect prospective students to our online offerings or one of our other campuses. Current, active students should continue to attend class as scheduled.”

Following the statement, a message was posted on the Art Institute of Indianapolis’ website indicating they’re ceasing new enrollment and providing a phone number.

“While we actively work with our accreditors and regulators to assess the viability of our current offerings at these locations, DCEH remains steadfast in our mission to provide students with accessible, affordable, relevant, and purposeful education aligned with market demands,” said Dean.

The Commission for Higher Education said Monday they were aware that DCEH may close campuses in multiple states.

“The Commission is monitoring the situation at The Art Institute of Indianapolis closely, and continues to be in contact with ownership in order to protect students,” read a statement from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

As Call 6 Investigates uncovered in the past few weeks, the Art Institute of Indianapolis was hit with a compliance warning from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) for not placing enough students in jobs.

The council’s standard is a 60% job placement rate, where the Art Institute of Indianapolis’ rate is 53%, records show.

ACICS said it is giving the campus 24 months to come into compliance or it could risk losing its accreditation.

Former students Call 6 Investigates spoke with say they’re not surprised at all by the compliance warning.

Toni Clark is working as a bartender, supporting a baby boy, despite attending the Art Institute from 2008 to 2011.

She’s had difficulty getting a job in fashion.

"They do tell you we'll place you in a job, you don't ever have to worry about that,” said Clark. “Once you graduate, then you're good to go and it's unfortunately not like that."

Just months from graduation, Clark had to drop out after she had trouble getting a loan.

She’s now $75,000 in debt.

"It's really hard because the loans have gotten so intense throughout my entire 20’s essentially,” said Clark. “It's really held me back. If there was a big regret I've ever had in my entire life, it's going there."

Indianapolis resident and Art Institute graduate Casey Cooper is also in debt--- $100,000 in the hole.

He got his fashion design degree from the Art Institute in 2013, but he’s never been able to find a job in the field.

"I'm not surprised (at the compliance warning), and I’m surprised that AI has that high of a placement rate,” said Cooper. “It's sad because a lot of students are wanting to go into these fields and get these jobs and they end up confused.”

Cooper said you should do your research before choosing a school, including how it will help you get a job in your field.

"Look at other students enrolled and students who have attended, because that's where you're really going to find the truth about the education," said Cooper.

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