INDIANAPOLIS-- Colleges in Central Indiana are reaching out to try to help families left in limbo by the Art Institute of Indianapolis.
“Honestly, we are all really upset,” said Art Institute student Gerald Bentley. “They've made it very clear that this will be the last quarter that there will be classrooms at all. As a matter of fact everything will be online next quarter and I'll have to take my senior classes online which burns my biscuits because i don't have Wi-Fi my house."
Bentley said he’s one of the lucky ones, because he will get his degree in fashion design and science this December, but others will not get that far.
“It's disheartening, it really is for me and other students who are having to uproot their lives and switch campuses,” said Bentley. “People aren't getting their degrees from this situation. Countless people are going back home."
Indiana Tech, a small private university, doesn’t want students to go back home.
They’re offering up to 60 credit transfer credits to Art Institute students.
“We will accept up to 60 credit hours of transfer credit but it has to be into a like program,” said Duncan McCorquodale, director of admissions at Indiana Tech’s college of professional studies. “You can't be in culinary arts, have 60 credits and want to become an accountant with us. It won't transfer."
Indiana Tech is also located in The Pyramids, along with the Art Institute, on Indy’s northwest side off of Michigan Road.
McCorquodale said the worst thing you can do is to have loan debt with no degree.
“Even if you do have debt, we look at that as an investment in yourself,” said McCorquodale.
Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney asked him about students who simply can’t afford to spend any more money.
“It's an unfortunate situation because very often they've taken out the maximum of loans they can take out,” said McCorquodale. “What I would say is come in, sit down and we can investigate that with you."
Students say the Art Institute is laying off employees.
“My internship leader had her last day on Friday,” said Bentley. “Our financial officers are leaving. It’s going to be a catastrophe, it truly is.”
Call 6 Investigates tried to speak with someone on camera Tuesday at the Art Institute, but a security guard asked our Kara Kenney to leave.
Spokeswoman Anne Dean said in an email that classes are in session and the campus is open.
“We are committed to minimizing the disruption to our students’ education, and to providing the guidance they need to remain on the road to a career in their chosen field,” said Dean in an email to RTV6. “However, by law, all receiving institutions must evaluate each student individually. We are working on articulation agreements with schools that may have these barriers to transferees based on accreditation.”
Dean said the agreement will indicate the student will transfer in with stipulations, and it’s possible schools accepting credits earned at Dream Center Education Holdings institutions may require students to retake courses if learning outcomes between courses differ significantly.
“Some schools may have minimum GPA requirements for transferring students, which we are currently working to address,” said Dean.
The Art Institute of Indianapolis has accreditation with the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
ACICS recently hit the Art Institute with a compliance warning for its job placement rates.
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education points out ACICS is a national accreditor as opposed to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) which is a regional accreditor, whereas Indiana Tech and Ivy Tech have HLC accreditation.
“Typically it is more difficult for credits to transfer from a nationally accredited institution to a regionally accredited institution,” said Kate Stuard, a spokeswoman with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.
Brightwood College, which is also ACICS accredited, will only accept transfer credits if the completed course is equivalent to one at Brightwood, according to spokesperson Brent Jenkins.
Before you attend a college, make sure to ask about their accreditation, whether they’re for-profit or non-profit, whether they’re public or private, as well as their job placements and graduation rates.
“Do your due diligence,” said McCorquodale. “Those are questions you should be asking.”
You can also check to see if they’re on a federal watch list of schools with financial or accreditation issues.
Call 6 Investigates reached out to the U.S. Department of Education regarding the Art Institute of Indianapolis.
"The most effective way for students to provide feedback (e.g. complaints, concerns, or questions) about The Art Institutes or any institution is through the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Feedback System at StudentAid.gov/feedback [feedback.studentaid.ed.gov] ," said an education department spokesperson. "It should be noted that the Department conducts its own due diligence with any review, investigation or complaints it may receive."
It’s not yet clear whether the Art Institute of Indianapolis will close, and if so, when it will shut its doors at The Pyramids.
“Students at the majority of impacted locations will transition to their chosen transfer option by the end of the calendar year,” Dean said. “We will be working with students to decide their next course of action on a case-by-case basis, as soon as possible.”
Options for Art Institute students include:
- Complete their studies at the campus, uninterrupted, if able to graduate on or before the end of the calendar year, and receive a 50 percent reduction in tuition.
- Transition from their campus-based program to the same or a comparable program via online delivery (The option to attend online is not available to residents of the state of Oregon or those attending The Art Institute of Philadelphia). For doing so, they will receive a 50 percent reduction in tuition for the remainder of their program of study.
- Transition to another campus within DCEH that offers the same or a similar program. For doing so, they will receive a 50 percent reduction in tuition for the remainder of their program of study.
- Transfer to a partner institution that is not part of DCEH. For doing so, they will receive a $5,000 tuition grant to support the completion of their studies.
- For students enrolled in licensure-leading programs, we recognize that there may be additional options to ensure a path to a degree. We will work with each student individually to determine the best course of action.
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