Students said they are angry and confused about the future of the Illinois Institute of Art. It is also unclear if their credits or degrees will be worth anything, students said.
"To see that rug be pulled from under me so easily, so simply, it's heartbreaking," said Illinois Institute of Art student Emmanuel Dunagan.
Enrollment was suddenly halted at Argosy University in Schaumburg and Illinois Institute of Art downtown and in Schaumburg. 18 of the 39 Institute of Art campuses nationwide are also closing.
Longtime critic of for-profit colleges Senator Dick Durbin blasted the school's parent company, Dream Center Education Holdings, after he learned the company allegedly failed to inform students when it lost accreditation seven months ago.
"While we were in class, we had no idea that our credits were potentially not going to be accredited, or that we would be walking out with a degree that was essentially worth nothing," Dunagan said.
According to the college's accreditation agency, students who take classes or graduate during the candidacy period should know their courses and degrees are not accredited and may not be accepted by other colleges or universities or recognized by prospective employers.
Students were also given a letter listing options to complete their degrees, including taking the school's online program or studying at another college or university.
The Illinois Institute of Art said students can receive a $5,000 tuition grant with proof of enrollment.
"Most people who know anything about college know that $5,000 doesn't go far," Dunagan said.
Dream Center Education Holdings said the closings are due to a "responsibility" to be more "responsive" to the "needs of our students and the changing demands of higher education."
The company sent letters to students, stating "deans and academic advisors will be meeting with each student over the...next several weeks to review... (their) academic plans."
Dunagan said the closure makes him "think about all the time, energy and money" he put into his education.
Argosy University and Illinois Institute of Art are just the latest for-profit schools to close abruptly. The I-Team has reported for years about schools that have quickly shut down or have been under fire by state leaders.
Full statement from Dream Center Education Holdings
Official DCEH communication re: campus closures
At Dream Center Education Holdings (DCEH), we are committed to providing students with an accessible, affordable, relevant, and purposeful education.
Over the last several months, we have taken a strategic and comprehensive look at each of our three education systems and their respective campuses, evaluating them to be sure that they are meeting the needs of today's learners and providing the best student and graduate outcomes.
What has become clear is that we have a critical need and responsibility to become a much more agile organization, responsive to the needs of our students and the changing demands of higher education.
As a result of that examination, we have made the decision to cease new enrollments for the following schools within The Art Institutes, Argosy University, and South University systems:
The Art Institutes Arlington, VA; Charleston, SC; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Indianapolis, IN; Nashville, TN; Novi, MI; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Raleigh-Durham, NC; Portland, OR; San Bernardino, CA; San Francisco, CA; Santa Ana, CA; Sacramento, CA; and Schaumburg, IL
Argosy University Alameda, CA; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Nashville, TN; Ontario, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; San Diego, CA; Sarasota, FL; and Schaumburg, IL
South University Novi, MI; High Point, NC; and Cleveland, OH
We will cease new enrollments at these locations, providing prospective students with access to online offerings or programs at one of our other campuses.
This decision was made for a number of reasons, including significantly declining enrollment and an increase in the demand for online programs in higher education.
It is important to note that current, active students should continue to attend class as scheduled. However, we are continuing to assess the viability of our current offerings at these locations.
This is a necessary step in ensuring that we best support our students, both present and future, in response to the changing landscape of higher education.
Dream Center Education Center