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Some students still missing Art Institute diplomas

Posted: 4:24 PM, Jun 26, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-26 16:24:13-04
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INDIANAPOLIS — Months after a Call 6 Investigation into Art Institute of Indianapolis graduates missing their diplomas, some grads say they still have not received the document.

Lorene Edmunds contacted Call 6 Investigates on Monday and said her son Scott has still not received his diploma even though he graduated from the culinary school in December 2018.

“Will my son ever get his diploma?” Edmunds asked Call 6.

Miles Jones, of Indianapolis, an Art Institute graduate, also tells RTV6 he has not received his diploma from the school either.

The college, located at "The Pyramids" near 86th Street and Michigan Road on the northwest side, closed for good on Dec. 28.

According to the school’s website, students should receive them within the next few weeks.

“Diplomas are being printed and mailed to students who graduated from The Art Institute of Indianapolis and The Art Institute of Phoenix in December 2018,” read the website. “Students will receive them by July 17, 2019.”

Call 6 Investigates also raised questions back in March about the missing diplomas.

PREVIOUS | Art Institute graduates waiting for diplomas

Amber Skaggs, of Avon, graduated from the Art Institute of Indianapolis in December with a degree in graphic design and just received her diploma on Tuesday of this week.

“A diploma is just a piece of paper, and while that might be true, I'm not going to hang my transcripts on the wall,” said Skaggs. “I want something that I can frame and show that I put all this work and effort into, and I did put in a lot of work and effort with this school."

Call 6 Investigates began reporting about problems with the Art Institute in July 2018, when the Indianapolis campus 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 was 53%, records show.

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

The Indianapolis campus closed its doors months later, on Dec. 28.

When Amber Skaggs saw stories by Call 6 Investigates in mid-2018, she was close to finishing her degree.

“I got really nervous when they shut down our housing and I only had three months to find my own place,” said Skaggs.

Skaggs said she has tried to get a hold of the Art Institute’s operator, Dream Center Education Holdings, but her diploma still hasn’t shown up.

“We’ve gotten our transcripts and people that I’ve called say our transcripts are as good as our diploma,” said Skaggs. “It shows that we graduated.”

As for Amber Skaggs, she’s now working as a waitress despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars she said she spent on her education, housing and supplies with the Art Institute.

Between July 2016 and May 2017, the Art Institute of Indianapolis had nearly 1,000 students enrolled, according to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

PREVIOUS | Art Institute students left in limbo

For those students who elect not to continue their educational program, the U.S. Department of Education provides the opportunity to apply for a closed school loan discharge. For further information on closed school loan discharge, students should visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/closed-school.

According to the U.S Department of Education, students can be eligible for 100% discharge of loans if the school closes while you’re enrolled and you do not complete your program because of the closure, as well as if your school closes within 120 days after you withdraw.

Art Institute campuses across the country have already announced their closure, and others have halted enrollments.