Nonprofit Argosy University expected to close Friday

CHICAGO -- Argosy University on Michigan Avenue is expected to shut down Friday, leaving students scrambling to figure out the fate of their future.

Argosy operates 16 campuses in 11 different states, including Chicago. The Los Angeles-based nonprofit set out to transform failing for-profit colleges into successful nonprofit schools, but the local branch could not meet its financial obligations and in January entered into receivership, a form of bankruptcy.

The school is accused of mishandling federal funds, for failing to distribute $16.3 million in federal aid to thousands of its students. Chances are, the students won't ever get that money.

Students in Chicago said they were even encouraged to quit their full time and part time jobs to focus on getting their degree. Students who were relying on their stipends to pay their bills, are now unable to afford the basics.

Indra Gonzalez was supposed to get $5,000 this spring semester, so she quit her part-time job to focus on school. Now she can't pay her bills.

"I'm stuck in this limbo," said Gonzalez.

Senator Dick Durbin addressed the closure of Argosy University, stating, "After wasting millions of tax dollars and crippling thousands of students with debt, another phony for-profit university, Argosy, is expected to imminently close its doors. When will this Administration stop subsidizing these worthless vultures?"

Officials said if they're not acquired Friday by a higher education institution, they will close.

Students said they've been trying to get transcripts and find out the status of their pending degrees, but are not getting many answers.

"Hundreds of students in the Chicagoland area now have debt and a worthless scholastic experience. Why? Because of the Department of Education in Washington refuses to call these people out for what they're doing. These are the kind of vultures of the education field, preying on young people aspiring to make their lives better," Durbin said.

Durbin and 12 of his Senate colleagues sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, urging the department to assist Argosy students immediately, the senator's office said.

They called on the department to work with accreditors and states to establish options for students to continue their studies at high-quality institutions, directly notify Argosy students of their option for federal closed school discharge, and extend the window for students to be eligible for closed school discharge.

The senators also called for protections for students at a group of Art Institutes campuses run by the same entities as Argosy.

"Think twice. To the parents, and the parents of students, and those across the Chicagoland area think twice about these for profit schools. We have city colleges and community colleges and many universities. Don't waste your son or daughter's time on a university that's going to fold leaving them with debt and nothing to show for it," Durbin said.